COVID has changed people and their attitude to brands. So what are the changes and how do businesses need to tweak their approach to cater accordingly? Craig Flanders explains.
With restrictions lifting across the country and international borders finally re-opening, there’s an overwhelming sense life is starting to return to normal. For marketers, there’s the temptation to go back to doing things how they always did them pre-Covid.
But that would be a mistake because the world has fundamentally changed. And so have consumers.
According to research by Kantar, 80 per cent of Australians say their life priorities have changed thanks to the pandemic. They want brands to change too with the same research finding 86 per cent of people don’t want brands to carry on as they did before.
Accenture is calling these people “reimagined consumers” with research by the consultancy finding 44 per cent of people fit into this category.
Reimagined consumers have revised their life purpose and what matters to them. They’re the people who are expected to quit their jobs in droves, have a tree change or start their own business. From a marketing perspective, Accenture predicts they will ditch brands that don’t align with their new values while gladly paying a premium for those that do.
So what does this mean for marketers?
According to Accenture, reimagined consumers represent significant buying power with their drive to purchase shifting beyond price and quality to five emerging motivators.
Ease and convenience
During lockdowns, brands have been forced to up the ante on ease and convenience. From the oft-cited acceleration in e-commerce to the proliferation of click and collect offerings, shoppers have discovered a new way to buy stuff they’re not about to forget anytime soon. The temptation may be to roll back these Covid-induced conveniences but, for the reimagined consumer, that would be folly. Instead, brands should be looking for ways to build on these offerings. How can they make the experience for their customers even more easy and convenient?
Service and personal care
Personalisation has been high on the priority list for smart brands for several years and it’s not going away anytime soon. People like to be remembered by the businesses they transact with, whether that’s through personalised offers based on previous purchase behaviour or tailored communications.
On the service front, Accenture notes that customer service is key with reimagined consumers expecting fast, simple and clear ways to communicate with service teams. This might sound like ‘retailing 101’, but the bar is set for this type of benchmark by any great customer experience poeple have with any type of industry. It’s estimated 50 per cent of these consumers are willing to walk if they don’t get the level of service they expect putting brands in all sectors including automotive, finance, consumer goods, electronics and telco on notice.
Trust and reputation
Beyond being able to trust that products will deliver on their promises, reimagined consumers are considering reputation when choosing between brands, retail or otherwise. During the pandemic, many brands have made the move to stand for something. The reimagined consumer wants them to follow through on this. Having a positive impact on society may seem irrelevant to brands in a range of categories but it’s not to this cohort.
The trend to shop local could be the greatest lasting legacy from Covid with Spinach’s own research finding 63 per cent of Australians are more interested in buying Australian made products and 60 per cent keen to shop for products made by Australian companies.
If you have a local origin story, now’s the time to shout it from the rooftops and if you don’t, it would pay to start looking into how you could shift production to Aussie shores or, at the very least, prioritise local suppliers. With disrupted supply chains unlikely to spring back to pre-Covid normalcy for some months, if ever, you’ll be doing consumers and your business a favour.
Health and safety
Brands such as supermarkets that responded rapidly to the health and safety concerns of the last couple of years have come out on top. And there’s much to learn from them. The reimagined consumer wants to know you have their health and safety in mind but also, that of your staff. The pandemic isn’t yet over so don’t start packing away those sanitiser stations. And make sure you’re thinking about the impact of this period on your people now and into the future.
It might sound like extra work, requiring some new thinking but right now, the reimagined consumer represents an opportunity for brands as new behaviours become baked in to the new normal.
Craig Flanders is the CEO of advertising agency Spinach.