October 23, 2020

customers covid 19 online sales

Buying decisions, motivations, objectives, and goals have changed drastically in your post-COVID-19 customers.

These people are just one of the many new personas born out of this global pandemic.

As your business needs to thrive in this “new normal,” it is your job to get to know how the current market’s mind works – during and post-Covid 19.

Bouncing Back? Nah. 

Many industries talk about “bounce back” strategies when what you really should be focusing on is bouncing forward.

There is no way life will go back to how it was post-coronavirus.

After everything that has happened, people’s values, priorities, and how they perceive their finances have changed permanently. 

Today, I will walk you through 4 effective ways to get to know your consumers in this new normal.

However, before we dig deeper into this, let me show you some of the most significant changes in the market after the coronavirus pandemic hit.

2020 Stats That Show Us How Fast The Market Climate Is Changing

So many developments in less than a year!

2020 is a wild ride for sure, especially for businesses that need to keep their revenues flowing in spite of the quarantine and lockdown measures enforced in many parts of the world. 

Let’s make the numbers paint us a bigger picture of what’s really happening in the world’s business sector:

Unemployment rates are blowing up.

In the US alone, unemployment rates hit an all-time low for the decade as the number of people without work rose to 10.4%.

This is almost triple the percentage rate recorded for 2019 (3.7%), according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) last year. 

During the same period this statistic was recorded, Italy came in second in unemployment rise with a 2.7% increase from last year and France came in third with a 1.9% increase. 

What does this mean for the business sector? 

Unemployment doesn’t just affect an individual or a single household.

More than being an immediate problem of the person affected, high unemployment rates can negatively impact a country’s economy.

It creates a domino-effect and can make even the most successful businesses resort to dire measures just to keep their revenue from going in the red.

Without stable work, people will become more reluctant to spend money – especially on purchases they deem to be a miscellaneous expense. 

When fewer people are buying, less money is injected into the market, and therefore, less money is circulated in the economy. Again, high unemployment rates create a ripple of events that could eventually lead to an economic recession.

COVID-19 has especially proven this true.

In a matter of several months, many economic disturbances have been recorded. Stock markets crashed, luxury brands became insolvent, and even the biggest corporations were pressed to make desperate decisions.

Four to six weeks,” in the words of Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, was all it took to topple over 12 long years of hard work and dedication.

While Airbnb has not shut down entirely, the scope of its operation has been greatly reduced.

With the tourism and hospitality industry suspended until further notice, the company expects to suffer major losses and setbacks, and all they can do is hope that many countries’ borders will open up again soon. 

The global economy is expected to shrink by 3%, according to the IMF.

At first glance, you might think, “Just 3 percent? Big deal.” All sarcasm aside, YES – it really is a big deal.

This 3% decline is expected to leave the world in worse conditions than The Great Depression of the 1930s.

It’s such a drastic decline that many countries are coming up with financial response schemes left and right to try and buffer the impact of the impending recession.

A significant drop in the number of physical shoppers.

In the US, physical store shoppers dropped by 52%; in the UK, it dropped by 78%, and in Mexico, a whopping 80%.

The main reason for this drastic change in consumer behavior is that shoppers experience higher anxiety levels and fear of contracting the virus whenever they go outside.

But people still need to shop, right?

So a drop in the number of physical store shoppers is not exactly the end of the world – but rather the rise of a new one.

During and after the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a notable increase in the number of consumers who shop online.

According to a very recent survey, there has been an increase of at least 6 to 10% in online purchases across all product categories. 

This is a trend that we won’t see going away anytime soon.  

This is not just a baseless prediction.

One of the things that support our hypothesis is the emergence of a new type of consumer persona: The post-COVID-19 shopper.

What Trends Are Emerging Post-COVID?

Like many others, we also wish that this is just another passing trend.

However, this global pandemic is far too impactful and traumatizing (to be honest) to downplay its after-effects.

As mentioned earlier, COVID-19 has brought about some irreversible changes. It has given rise to a new type of consumer that will most likely permeate online and offline markets in the next decade. 

Dealing with this new type of consumer should be a part of your COVID business recovery strategy.

How well you can relate and communicate with them will become a major turning point for your business post-coronavirus.

Here are some ways to locate the post-COVID shopper based on the emerging market.

Health and Nutrition.

The Post-COVID-19 Shopper is someone who values his or her health to a meticulous level.

They are likely to support businesses that respect their views on health and safety as well.

Preference For Contactless Shopping

You may think that this sudden rise in online purchases is nothing but a temporary thing; a necessity during these trying times, you might say.

However, it is important to note that the popularity of online shopping has been steadily growing even before the pandemic.

This global crisis only brought even more awareness to this convenient way of purchasing goods.

Even when this crisis is long over, it is safe to assume that a big chunk of the buying population will continue to transact online.

After all, once you get a taste of convenience, you can’t just “go back” to the way you used to do things. 

Prioritizing Essentials Over Non-Essentials

The first to suffer the backlash of wide scale lockdowns are luxury brands.

Then, it was the automotive industry, e-hailing and other industries deemed a “comfort” to people.

When many people no longer had room for an extra expense in their budgets due to being “let go” or laid off from work, their buying habits changed by a lot.

Your post-COVID-19 customer is likely to carry over this kind of mindset long after the crisis has been averted.

This is something very crucial to consider when planning your COVID business continuity strategy.

You have to adapt your business to a market that can clearly discern the difference between essentials and non-essentials.

4 Ways To Get To Know Your Post-COVID-19 Customers

1. Social Media Q&A

At the peak of the pandemic, more than half (51%) of the US adult population reported an increase in  social media usage.

The same thing is true for your business – you can stay connected with your market despite the physical distancing limitations COVID-19 has set. 

Millions of people are logging into their social media accounts daily so if there’s anything you or your business wants to communicate, this would be the perfect place to do so.

You can make use of;

  • Instagram polls,
  • Livestream the behind-the-scenes of your business, taking questions from customers,
  • Launch surveys to research customer behavior on your LinkedIn. Boosts your social cred too!

2. Follow Market Activity

Sometimes, you have to get so close and personal with your target market that you begin to act “creepy.”

Follow the latest trends, subscribe to pages and personalities that your customers are likely to follow, join community groups that would give you intel about the latest developments in your industry. 

Only by following numbers closely are you able to see changes in patterns and adjust your business accordingly.

Keeping your business up-to-date is crucial to maintain good relationships with your audience.

3. Embed Customer-Centric Values In Your Company Culture

In order to get to know your market well, all the people involved in your business must display the same level of enthusiasm that you have towards your customers.

Train your employees to be inquisitive about consumer concerns at all times; foster in them values that would help them empathize and relate to every customer your business encounters.

Instilling the right values, drilling a customer-centric culture into your business will help your employees “automatically know” how to engage with new clients.

It would be as if getting to know what the customers’ motivations comes second nature to them. 

4. Reconstruct Your Business’s Idea Of “The Perfect Customer”

In every business, there will always be good prospects and bad prospects.

Pre-COVID, your business likely has its own set of customer “personas” that you have created individual approaches for as well. 

Trash that.

Any past ideas you may have about your market right now may not remain the same after this global crisis.

There will be changes – BIG changes – and we don’t know how much those changes will affect the way you sell, yet. 

Although it is too early to tell, it is safe to assume that you won’t be servicing the same types of customers again.

  • You have to closely monitor market activity, review changes, and adapt accordingly.
  • You have to recreate your idea of a “good prospect” and revamp your business’s existing methods so that it can better accommodate your post-COVID-19 customers’ needs.

Think of this as the turning point in your business. You either give up or adapt. 

But you and I both know that giving up isn’t an option, right?

About the author 

Reeve Yew

Reeve is the CEO and a Member of Forbes Business Council.

He has spoken on stages, both online and offline, alongside world class entrepreneurs and marketers like Gary Vaynerchuk, Brian Tracy, Kevin “Shark Tank” Harrington and Mark “Godfather of Internet Marketing” Joyner.

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