A new outlook: four key trends that have emerged since lockdown
From remote working to physical distancing, socialising virtually and even a renewed affinity for home comforts, much has changed since the UK entered lockdown.
And although the full extent of the pandemic’s impact is yet to be determined, it has certainly had a lasting impact on the psyche of today’s customers. Here, we explore four key emerging trends in consumer behaviour, and examine how they will likely impact the way brands across a multitude of sectors communicate.
1. Entering the digital world
Amidst periods of prolonged isolation, and with non-essential retailers remaining closed, even previously reluctant online shoppers, outside of the traditional Gen Z and Millennials, have been forced to shift their shopping habits to embrace the world of e-commerce.
Faced with a changing consumer mindset that has shifted considerably from one accustomed to face-to-face encounters, to one willing to be completely touchless and digitally-driven, brands will likely continue to favour omnichannel engagement and digital channels. Whether that is re-imagined websites, smart apps, or innovative technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) or machine learning, each will support online customer journeys for a broader spectrum of consumers, even after physical stores/branches reopen.
2. Sticking to tradition
During lockdown, arguably the greatest challenge for many brands has been how to reach ‘stay at home’ consumers and build meaningful relationships. The resurgence of traditional marketing strategies such as direct mail (DM) communications has enabled brands to complement digital strategies with a physical channel that can cut through the digital fog during the crisis. The financial services sector, in particular, has seen major value in this channel, with JICMAIL Discovery revealing the average piece of finance DM is shared in the household and typically reaches 1.13 people, giving it an additional reach of 13%.
And with the requirement to reach all audience demographics in their households – with the lines between work and home blurring as remote working practices persist – even after restrictions are eased, it is a trend that we expect to endure.
3. Moving away from the ‘hard sell’
Once a staple of any marketing and sales strategy, the ‘hard sell’ has taken somewhat of a back step during the ongoing lockdown. With consumers left counting the economic cost of the outbreak, and many anxious about the future, brands have instead focused on supporting customers. From Admiral automatically refunding all users £25 on their car or van insurance, to Pizza Express offering ideas of activities to keep children and adults alike entertained during lockdown, there have been many examples of this shift. Thinking outside of the hard sell will be a lasting lesson for many brands post lockdown, as they seek the nurture brand advocacy as we enter the new normal.
4. The rise of customer experience
To not simply survive the crisis, but rather thrive in its aftermath, creating a truly ‘frictionless’ customer experience (CX) that effectively engages consumers wholly with speed, efficiency and relevancy across all media will be essential.
Those organisations that are able to gain a critical understanding of their customers – including the touchpoints through which they will engage in a post-pandemic world – and tailor their strategies to reflect consumer requirements and new customer journeys, stand to emerge strongest following the pandemic. Whether this is a shift to contactless/digital interactions, or introducing new forms of communication such as voice or chatbots, adaptability will be central to success.
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