“THE LONG ROAD TO NORMALCY”
A study surveying 15,000 people across 17 global markets has revealed that a ‘new normal’ is almost a certainty as we begin to make a gradual return to a more recognisable life, none of us really know what to expect and when.
Looking deeper into the figures we can see patterns emerging around brand loyalty and spend that are worth considering when you’re making your strategic decisions throughout the rest of 2020 and into 2021 as we slide into recession.
A STORM IS BREWING
Financially, the longer that the crisis (and specifically lockdown) goes on, evidence shows that people are preparing to ‘tighten their belts’ and that there’s a much more acute awareness of financial situations. Global Web Index support this with their research showing a steady increase in financial awareness, personally, nationally and globally.
Aside from the unstable conditions in almost every sector, and many having reduced or lost incomes to contend with, it’s likely that people are trying to implement contingency plans as early as possible with the uncertainty of how long the crisis will last. I think we can all agree that it seems more difficult than ever to plan for things using unknown variables.
WILL PEOPLE ACTUALLY REMEMBER HOW BRANDS BEHAVED DURING THE CRISIS?
During lockdown, social media has been alight with how brands have been responding to the situation. Some have acted heroically, helping to supply their health services with PPE and supplies, others have really made a more negative impression which we discussed in our own webinar regarding Coronavirus Comms.
So will people remember how brands behaved? The study found that 35% of consumers are more likely to buy from brands that helped people during the outbreak whilst globally, 56% of people said their main focus was to buy from brands that best meet their needs. It’s conclusive that cost isn’t the only factor, good will shown by brands will, in some way, remain in people’s minds. However, availability will continue to be a big motivator for people currently whether that’s how much stock a company has or how quickly they can receive the goods until restrictions have been relaxed for some time.
How will people react once lockdown ends and businesses and events reopen? Will there be a surge of ‘revenge spending’? It’s tempting to believe that the instant we’re all allowed to begin to shop in physical stores and attend events again that people will want to use money they haven’t been spending during this period. However those surveyed don’t seem to be showing signs of this right now. 80% intend to delay spending on ‘big items’ and 41% intend to cut back on day-to-day expenditure. This isn’t specific to lower earners, as research found top earners just as likely as anyone else to make cut backs.
Many consumers are not in a rush to return to public places with a great degree of reluctance to return to normal in this sense in the long term. Indoor and outdoor venues appear to face a bigger battle than shops to resume normality so perhaps virtual approaches to these events are here to stay indefinitely and these organisations should look to change their strategy to accommodate this sentiment. Safety is definitely the highest priority for people, so there is a reluctance seen across the globe to ‘get back to normal’ even when doors are allowed to reopen and the public are signalled to do so.
Companies like BeaconHouse Events are already making steps in this direction, assisting their clients with a switch to virtual versions of these events so as not to fall off people’s radar and continue to bring exciting events to audiences using available tech resources.
HAVE PEOPLE BECOME COMFORTABLY RELIANT ON TECH?
We’ve seen an unprecedented number of people working from home to keep businesses and jobs in existence since lockdown took place. People’s eagerness to work from home really depends on their home circumstances – some people are enjoying dodging the traffic and expense paired with the daily commute and getting chores done on their lunch. Others are doing more than ever before, working alongside caring for their children and other dependents, potentially dealing with financial fallout from the crisis whilst navigating a multitude of other responsibilities.
In light of this working from home revolution, once people return to work, 24% of those surveyed plan to work from home more frequently with greater interest in this from those in IT and procurement sectors. This shift will have big implications for these industries and will shape the way that tech supplied to these sectors is created and used.
With an increase in the use of dining, learning and streaming apps, evidence suggests that this looks to continue post-lockdown as ultimately the crisis hasn’t changed the fact that for most, convenience is king, even above a craving for normality.
THERE’S MORE TO COME
What we can take away from research at this point is:
- Consumers are becoming more aware and concerned about the financial impact of Coronavirus and this will shape their purchasing decisions.
- Social good during this period will also stick in people’s minds but, like cost, isn’t the only factor that will be a deciding factor in purchases. Availability is currently a big motivator for people whether that’s how much stock a company has or how quickly they can receive the goods.
- Safety is paramount and regardless of government decisions to reopen public spaces, people are reluctant to resume normality at the same pace.
- Convenience is an even bigger part of our lives now whether it’s working or exercising from home and companies will need to expect big changes in the coming months.
- Tech has facilitated a shift in how people eat, learn and shop and we expect to see a lasting impact on most sectors post-crisis.