Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR
When American author, pastor and motivational speaker John Maxwell posted this quote four years ago, he was referring to personal growth. Little did he realize then that the current pandemic would cause CMOs to resurrect and consider his message in planning their post-COVID-19 marketing and digital PR strategy. Many observers are reporting that consumers have not only changed their buying habits because of the pandemic but that many would maintain them when life returns to normal. Dr. Paul Marsden, a research and consumer psychologist at London’s University of the Arts, said it takes the average person 66 days to adopt a habit and subsequently continue it. Despite the changes brought about by self-isolation and social distancing, consumers are generally staying with brands they’ve used and trust according to Evercore Research. If so, brands might consider using this time when consumer stress levels are high to get to know their customers better to identify and remove these stressors and anything else that may be negatively affecting them.
Because so many people are confined to their homes and have more time on their hands, other activities not as prevalent in the past have taken over. One is DIY. Not only are homemakers cooking more, but others are using the extra time to acquire new skills and/or try new recipes. Nielsen said it found that yeast sales were up over 600% the week ending March 21 compared to the same period a year earlier. The research firm NPO Group reports that it discovered online sales of small home appliances increased 8% for the week ending March 14, and food commerce site Food52 said its sales for the first half of March matched that of Thanksgiving. The shuttering of nail and beauty salons has also diverted consumer traffic to sites meeting consumer needs. Nielsen said sales of hair coloring kits rose nearly 20% for the week ending March 21. Online subscription brand Madison Reed reported recent increases of 400%.
Consumers who were usually uncomfortable with ordering food online for home delivery, particularly boomers, are becoming more comfortable and confident now. Some observers suggest that many will continue to shop this way even after the pandemic is over. A study by ecommerce company, SmartCommerce, revealed that 40% of online grocery customers did so for the first time in March. Many employers that allowed their staff to work from home are realizing that it may not be necessary to have their people report to the office each day after the pandemic is over. They also recognize that the younger workforce relishes a work/life balance and that remote work could help retain valuable employees and even attract even better future candidates.
Digital purchasing is accelerating and will likely continue to be a favorite among an even great share of consumers. Brands that recognize this and can identify, segment, analyze, and nurture each of their audiences with tailored messages will increase their return of investment. Companies that are adaptable and quick to adjust can also move forward quicker once the pandemic is over. And for now, what the studies also reveal is that informational videos and materials that fill the interests and demands of consumers who are confined to their homes will be welcomed and well-received.