It might feel strange to talk about how you, as a company, should meet the consumers’ buying behaviour during a humanitarian crisis. A tragedy which primarily affects people, but also the world economy, people’s private finances and behaviour – including their buying behaviour. The consumers’ behaviour isn’t likely to back to the way it was before the outbreak. It’s we – the companies – that have to adapt and adjust to our customers’ new behaviour.
For many industries and companies, especially within the hotel and travel industry, the Coronavirus has had devastating consequences. So far, this has resulted in layoffs, mass redundancies and bankruptcies as a consequence of closed borders, recommendations not to travel and, in addition, a demand which has more or less disappeared in a very short time. Many small and medium-sized businesses are under great pressure, mainly because a crisis like this hasn’t been taken into consideration in the annual budget. Many companies depend on their existing customers each month.
Nevertheless, there are several signs showing that online purchases are increasing. Examples of these are in the grocery industry, online pharmacies and home deliveries from the bottleshop – where the number of orders is increasing. Much is likely to change for a short time to come, but the differences we are currently experiencing in consumer behaviour are mainly the drastic increase in internet usage and TV viewing. Physical stores and shopping centres are suffering the most, as we’re following the recommendations regarding social isolation. A number of companies have already addressed their consumers’ concerns and changed needs. They’ve updated their offer and changed their way of working. Among these, we find food suppliers that have temporarily removed certain services that required signatures or entering homes at delivery. Now, they leave your groceries outside your front door. Many companies also offer free deliveries and free returns, and at the same time, they’ve shortened their opening hours or closed their physical stores completely.
Even before the Corona pandemic, many Swedes have tried to save time in their everyday lives by ordering food through different apps instead of eating out. We can now see this trend growing and might persist even after the pandemic – even if our social needs will result in the restaurant owners getting their guests back. The companies that can focus on increasing their digital presence to compensate for lack of store sales, like the restaurants and cafés that are doing their best to offer take-away.
Having people who, to the best of their ability, work from home, combined with physical stores closing, it’s only natural that we see an increase in Internet usage. That’s why it’s important that companies act quickly and dare to invest in being present online for their customers – despite this rapid decline. To quickly map up your company’s most relevant products and services that different media channels can support right now. And – adjust the budget accordingly. Many people are currently searching for information on the Internet, which is a good reason to review your search engine advertising and visibility online and look into how social channels can inspire during these times.
4 tips for companies
- Focus on customer needs and demand – a must to quickly redirect and become more digital
- Try to be creative – adapt your products and services to the current situation
- Be humble and show that you care – for many people, this situation has devastating consequences. Try to help as best you can!
- Think long term – as soon as you have adjusted to the current situation, start planning for the “new normal” post-crisis – but then in a different form than before.
Customers will probably not go back to old routines. Companies that manage to adapt to their customers by keeping them keep them updated and informed, and manage to maintain their presence despite reduced demand will probably be able to get out of this situation faster and stronger than other companies. Therefore, as a company, we must adapt and update our offer to the new buying behaviour.