Old Habits Vs New Ways – Shaping the future

Lockdown and social distancing measures have impacted massively on consumer behaviour, but what looks set to stay as we ease out of restrictions and lockdown is completely lifted? And what will our “new normal” behaviour look like? These are questions we can only hazard a guess at, but one thing is certain and that is nothing will be the same as it was before Covid-19.

Lisa Prescott | Director

Changing consumer behaviour

In the past couple of months, we’ve all changed in many ways. Whether that’s the way in which we shop, the brands we engage with, our interactions and relationships with people, our fitness levels, our travel methods, our business operations, our attitudes towards the government and NHS, the way we manage our homes and our general outlook on life. It’s all changed.

Some changes were immediate, urgent measures we all had the responsibility of putting in place and likely in time these will phase out and we will naturally revert to our old habits. However, some may be set to stay as we develop new routines which make us question why we did the things we did prior to lockdown. This time has given us all the opportunity to think differently and re-evaluate how we live our lives.

Consumer behaviour has always fascinated me and I am passionate when it comes to developing customer profiles and the opportunities it brings when we understand to a deep level the psychology behind purchasing habits.

In this blog, I explore a handful of coronavirus consumer trends which may be set to stay for the long term.

co-op delivery bike

Community retailing

The entire food supply chain has worked tirelessly to keep us fed, so first and foremost a huge appreciation and thank you goes out to anyone working in this sector.

It’s been a very positive experience to see retailers and consumers coming together and looking at how best to care for key workers, high risk and vulnerable customers – early opening hours, priority online delivery slots, development of pre-payment cards, significant levels of foodbank donations and thousands of volunteers running errands for those in their community every single day.

We don’t need to be in a pandemic to continue with some of these initiatives to create strong community links and I think both retailers and consumers will support the need to continue these efforts as part of our daily lives.

No doubt in time the multiples will battle it back out for the top position – but I think the supermarkets who build loyalty by continuing to unite local communities will be the ones who come out on top in the long run, as opposed to the ones who blow massive production budgets on their Christmas TV campaigns which get us talking for 5 minutes!

Image Credit: Co-op

Return of the big shop

On the subject of grocery, the way in which we’ve shopped has changed significantly these past years, from the weekly “big shop” with our preferred supermarket to several weekly drop-in shops across multiple retailers.

During the pandemic and following government guidelines to minimise trips and only shop for essentials could we see the return of the big shop for the foreseeable? I predict we might, especially as consumers are more conscious of overall household spending, meal planning and waste reduction.

However, I don’t think people will revert back to shopping with just one retailer for their big shop, instead, I think we may shop week on/week off with a couple of supermarket brands, choosing between a mix of range (i.e. Sainsbury’s) and price (i.e. Aldi). Interesting times ahead for the grocers, let the battle commence!

trolleys outside supermarket
map and travel items

Stay safe staycations

Within weeks, the thought of a staycation could become a reality and what a blessing that will be! The international holiday market is going to take some time to get back on its feet and even when it does I think there will still be a desire to stay safe and stay home so domestic holidays in both the immediate and longer-term I believe will boom.

We’ve come to appreciate the beauty that exists on our doorsteps, which raises the question why go elsewhere when we have it all here in abundance? With people being more conscious of their household incomes staycations can offer a lower-cost alternative especially if you’re up for risking the good ole Blighty weather on a camping holiday! Why go elsewhere? We live in a beautiful country, with loads to explore, a staycation is likely a safer option, possibly cheaper and we’d be supporting the UK tourism & hospitality markets – absolute no brainer to me and one I think many will agree with.

Hospitality at home

According to Kantar over 500 million meals that would have been eaten in restaurants, cafes and pubs are now being catered at home. People have more time on their hands and are developing a passion for cooking and experimenting with different tastes.

As people’s culinary skills develop, their confidence levels will grow and that may mean there will be a desire to continue to cater at home for family and friends as opposed to dining out. Especially in the early stages as anxiety levels around safety and eating out may still be running high. Consumers will seek brands that help them expand their cooking abilities, those who help to create restaurant-quality cooking in the household kitchen, the likes of Gousto, HelloFresh and countertop and smart appliance brands could all benefit.

home cooking pasties

Gym memberships - A thing of the past?

At-home fitness equipment saw big sales spikes with John Lewis reporting “significant uplift” and Halfords a considerable rise in demand for exercise bikes. And with the likes of Joe Wicks keeping the nation fit are we really missing the gym?

I am a regular gym-goer, have been for years so when lockdown was announced I did panic a little at the thought of not being able to get my regular endorphin fix from a sweaty spin session! But actually, it’s been pretty good and it’s given me the opportunity to get out on my bike more, invest in a paddleboard, opting to walk instead of drive and doing online classes at home at a time which suits my lifestyle better.

Many people have taken up walking, cycling, running and daily online workouts as their new fitness regime and I don’t think it’s a trend that’s likely to disappear for some time, particularly as it’s a safer alternative as we ease out of lockdown.

I believe fitness and lifestyle brands may well continue to experience ongoing growth, especially if they keep pushing promotions and content to boost customer engagement, e.g. Nike has over 200 free workouts on its Nike Training Club app with 10M+ downloads. Where there are winners, inevitably there are losers and I think gyms could suffer as consumers re-evaluate how they exercise and how best to plan fitness into their (changed) daily lives.

Thinking to the future

We’re working with several clients to help understand the impact COVID-19 has had and will continue to have on their consumer base. If you think you’d benefit from having similar discussions then we’d like to hear from you, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we can look to set up an initial chat.