For decades, consumers have been driven by similar needs and desires. Keeping up with the Joneses, sticking to familiar and well-loved brands, visiting the cinema on a Friday night, and a sense of individuality. Since the emergence of the new strain of coronavirus, consumer behaviour has shifted drastically. The change in their priorities, behaviours, purchases, and thought processes must be recognised and responded to by brands looking to survive the pandemic.
Previously known for digitally suspicious shoppers, South Africa has seen a leap forward in online shopping, with 22% more consumers moving to online shopping during the pandemic. Since the onset of COVID-19, online order volumes increased more than 300%! Food and beverages, cosmetics and beauty products, over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, clothing and accessories, electronics, and other products or services are being bought online by a larger percentage of South Africans. Many consumers are reporting that their first ever online purchases in these categories occurred since COVID-19.
Your brand can reach the new post-lockdown shopper by offering online shopping that is reliable, easy to use, and glitch-free. It starts with a sound e-commerce site. Next, optimise your website visitor experience step-by-step. Make sure your checkout process is simple and goes off without a hitch. Make sure your delivery service is reliable and timeous.
Creative brands are offering multiple ways to shop online. Shoppers can purchase your products directly from Google Shopping (it’s now free) or from social media platforms like Messenger and WhatsApp. You can also diversify payment gates with options like SnapScan, PayPal, FlutterWave, and PayFast. Diversification is vital to reaching more consumers during this time.
As retailers navigate the new normal, challenges arise—keeping stock on shelves, enforcing social distancing, protecting staff from infection, and increasing delivery capacity as online shopping grows. Understanding how consumer priorities will shift before, during, and after the pandemic can help businesses prepare for shifts in supply and demand.
Consumer priorities are driven by their needs. During the 2020 pandemic, basic needs such as safety and physiological essentials rise in importance, while self-esteem and self-actualisation take a backseat. That does not mean self-actualisation and esteem is not important to shoppers, but these needs have less of an influence over what shoppers are choosing to purchase right now. There has been a 40% increase in demand for staple foods and supplies and a 22% decrease in demand for luxury goods.
During the outbreak, products and services satisfying fundamentally rooted needs will see unprecedented demand. Priorities driven by the need for belonging and love are constrained by limitations put in place during lockdown. These are predicted to return to normal after lockdown ends and include things like eating out and alcohol consumption
Use the prediction of shopper priorities during and after the pandemic to guide your company’s focus. If you find yourself in a category with a decrease in demand, consider how changes to your business can help you cater to categories with increased demand and interest. Be creative in your responses to shifting demand. Consider collaborating with companies and brands that might otherwise be considered competitors as Woolworths, Shoprite, Pick n Pay, and Spar did during the first phase of lockdown.
74% of South Africans are concerned about COVID-19. The situation brings new pressures, stress, and anxiety at a time when fundamental human cravings like freedom and physical connections are limited by lockdown. The pandemic is shaking worldviews. Many people are re-evaluating their values. As a result, mindsets, attitudes, and behaviours are changing too.
The shift is towards a less self-centred world where the shared experience of humanity is amplified. People’s need for connection is amplified by forced isolation. The need for instant gratification and consumerism is amplified by scarcity. As a result, an era of individualism and status is turning to an era where cooperation, community, connectedness, generosity, simplicity, wellbeing, and Ubuntu matter more.
Help people to connect and to feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves. This can be achieved through campaigns aimed at community efforts. Respond to consumers where they are at. You can use social listening tools and conscientious community management to aide your efforts. Take some time to re-evaluate your brand and organisation’s core values. Express these values in your marketing and allow them to guide changes in your organisation that will help consumers during this time of crisis.
The crisis has increased people’s awareness of the role brands and companies play in providing stability to the world at large. The majority of South Africans want brands to step up and make a difference. The expectation is that brands and companies will use their broader reach and deeper pockets to act and build a better world.
South Africans are looking for practical everyday solutions to societal challenges, especially challenges due to COVID-19. Before the pandemic, brands could deliver impact through functional and emotional messages. That is changing. Consumers are looking for meaningful action on a societal level. This change is one expected to continue after the pandemic.
Brands need to take action and talk about it. It needs to be authentic and impactful on society. Brands that are donating resources, offering new channels and ways to connect with the brand, and redefining themselves to meet the changing needs of the new norm are predicted to recover from the pandemic’s impact faster.
Avoid using creative messages that make no real difference. A great example would be McDonalds’ logo thing which has been criticized for making no impact whatsoever. DSTV has made news channels free to fight against fake news and misinformation. Netflix opened a new service that allows friends and families to watch in sync. Castle Lager has pledged to donate all marketing funds during shutdown to Solidarity for community support. What is your brand doing?
Social media and digital media consumption has risen since COVID-19, but these changes are unlikely to remain the same once the pandemic has passed. An increase in TV ratings can be observed, but this change is expected to be short term. Watch the news on TV increased by 198%, while watching live sports decrease by 42%.
In the face of a global shutdown of live sports, e-sports viewership is rising. This presents a unique opportunity for sponsorships and creative ways to involve your brand in the future of e-sports. Brands can take advantage of the lockdown period where online media consumption is much higher than usual to reach a captive audience. The opportunity is not predicted to remain the same.
Make sure people are experiencing your brand in a positive way online. This means a great website that loads fast and responds well. This means a community management team that responds to consumer concerns and trends fast and thoughtfully
Treat online chatter as the word-of-mouth of the day. Use the available platforms to deliver excellent customer experiences, whether on WhatsApp or Facebook or your own App. Prepare messages that will resound with your audience once lockdown ends. Most importantly, don’t go dark during this time. More than 95% of South Africans want brands to communicate during the crisis, and research shows a higher resilience in brands that maintain their level of communication. You can learn about how to digitise your business during lockdown and make the most of a world that has gone online. You can also get in touch with us at P.tch Digital, our team of experts is ready to assist and guide you on this digital transformation journey.
“What will South Africa remember about your brand’s actions in the 2020 Pandemic?”
Interested in more Digital Marketing News? Read more on our Insights page today. All statistics and information discussed in this article is relevant at the time of publishing and may be subject to change without notice.
Sources: Kantar 2020