A lot has been said and written about “the new normal” in the face of the pandemic and how businesses need to modify their processes fundamentally to stay on top of safety guidelines. But has any good come out of all the talk? How are customers feeling in this market?
This article will throw some light on these questions and summarise the overall impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on customer purchase decisions in the immediate future.
People and businesses alike have been severely affected by the crisis we’re facing. According to WHO, nearly half of the world’s population is on the verge of losing their livelihoods. Moreover, frontline economy workers are all the more vulnerable since they lack social protection and quality healthcare.
As the financial, health and human toll grew across the world, economic damage was inevitable in a country like India. Let’s discuss some statistics explaining how the pandemic will affect businesses, and hence, the economy in the long run.
When everything else has changed, why wouldn’t customer expectations? Through the course of 2020, it’s safe to say that consumer expectations have increased manifolds. This means brands now have to be even more mindful of what customers want from them—keeping in mind the economical constraints forced by the pandemic.
Not only that, ensuring a high level of security during customer interactions—both online and offline—is paramount.
Long-time customers might expect special treatment, considering their loyalty with you during tough times. Incentives and loyalty discounts are a few ways to make them feel valued and help you with healthy customer engagement.
In the long run, customers would expect brands to stay as dynamic as these times are and adapt quickly to changing needs.
The year 2020 affected not just our physical health, but also our mental well-being. A global pandemic that brought about a total standstill, along with a series of natural disasters and immense political unrest across the globe, resulted in terrible mental stress and disorders.
Being isolated in the middle of a lockdown allowed many to reflect within themselves and find inner peace. People also called this lockdown “a much-needed pause”—both for nature and humans from an auto-pilot life.
But this same isolation also aroused negative emotions and memories in some people. Therefore, you need to show your support for customers’ plight and take measures to check up on them.
The bitter truth about e-commerce is that no matter how flawless your customer experience might be, it can never outcast the real touch and feel of a product.
Therefore, given an option between offline and online shopping, in-store shopping will always have the upper hand. The whole experience of driving up to your favourite store, trying on different things, and taking them home beats waiting for 7 days post ordering online.
In the wake of the uncertainty that accompanied COVID-19, people have become more conservative about excessive expenditure. So undeniably, price negotiation and discounts have become integral to the consumers of today.
Delaying large purchases is a rising trend among households. Securing your future while compromising on your present needs is something that every customer follows in times of restricted budgets.
Brands must understand this and tweak their marketing and sales strategies accordingly to accommodate the budgetary restrictions of their customers.
The importance of going omnichannel has never been clearer. During a lockdown, when customers are confined to their homes, their phone screens become a convenient medium to travel and shop virtually.
Online shopping sites faced a huge increase in traffic, as evident by Amazon’s meteoric profits in the pandemic. Mobile shopping is an onwards and upwards trend for now and will continue to be so for a long time.
Companies need to dedicate special resources in order to make their customer experience mobile-friendly and be present where customers most want them.
The trending hashtag #VocalForLocal, made popular by Prime Minister Modi, is being followed by a major chunk of our population. After realising the importance of minimal resources in the manufacturing of products, consumers want to support sustainable manufacturing processes.
Even the fashion industry is focussing on sustainable fashion and is slowly moving away from fast fashion brands. Homegrown and organic products are being preferred in order to promote judicious resource management.
Ride-sharing services like Uber and Ola too faced the wrath of this pandemic. With drivers being highly susceptible to catching infection and passengers hesitating to book them, it’s been chaotic, to say the least.
However, these services are back in action for now, with proper safety measures and assured safety of their passengers.
With policies like making a mask-selfie mandatory before booking any ride, these companies have regained a lot of their clientele. However, people are still reluctant to use cab services because of an underlying fear of catching the virus. Unfortunately, this fear is nothing but a way of life in the “new normal.”
To wrap up:
2020 has been a turbulent year for all of us. It is only in such tough times that we pause and realise the value of what we have—before it no longer exists. Consumers across the world have changed during these unprecedented times, and hence, customer patterns have changed too.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed their perception of a brand’s services and the business world is transformed forever. They have high expectations when it comes to customer experience and they will not accept anything less.