How often have you heard someone say they are looking forward to when the world “returns to normal”? The challenge to that question, of course, is what normal is going to look like. Once we are on the recovery side of the COVID-19 pandemic, do we expect things to return to the way they were? Or will we return to a world that has fundamentally changed and are marketers prepared to adjust?

Influence Central, a professional consumer influencer organization, has been surveying buyers throughout the pandemic and documented some interesting changes in consumer patterns. Certainly, many of these patterns may reverse on the other side of the pandemic, but it would be foolish to think that all of them will. It’s not just how much consumers are buying, but what they are buying and why. Marketers who understand these changing patterns are best positioned to create offers that reflect the new segmentation and personas that are emerging.   

Scrolling through Influence Central’s blog, here are some examples of what I’m talking about.

Brand Loyalty

Brand loyalty is taking a hit. For example, only 12% of consumers say they are “very willing” to pay for a preferred brand name label vs. a generic one, and 37% actually favor generic brands. Whether this shaking of brand loyalty is due to supply side issues or financial pressures, the point is that there is a wide open door for prospecting right now. If consumers cannot find their regular brands on the shelves or cannot afford the ones they normally buy, they become open to messaging from new brands and those they might not have previously considered. It will be interesting to see whether prospecting ticks upward during this time.  

Coffee Crazy

With more people working from home, new trends are emerging in categories like coffee. With fewer people hitting the drive-through on their way to work, for example, this opens new doors for coffee brands and “home brew” appliances. More than half of those surveyed (56%) are brewing more pots and cups of coffee at home than before the pandemic began. If they aren’t buying Starbucks on the way to the office, then perhaps they are more willing to splurge on designer brands than they were. Or maybe they could be convinced that they now have time to indulge their senses by grinding their own beans.

Are your clients looking at how the pandemic is changing their customers’ shopping patterns? Not just how much they buy, but what they buy and changes in how they interact with once familiar product categories?  

Re-Engaging with the Lost Art of Cooking

Another example of a changing product category “cook at home.” With more time spent at home, people are re-engaging with this lost art.

  • Since the pandemic began, 88% of people have been cooking more meals at home. This includes 49% who are cooking meals from scratch and 23% who are willing to spend more time doing it.
  • 17% are dividing and conquering meal responsibilities with their spouses or have reversed areas of responsibility.
  • 67% say the pandemic has forced them to get creative with what’s left in their freezer or pantry between those “fewer and farther between” grocery store trips.

In this environment, marketers need to change how their messaging is delivered. Who is doing the cooking and how the decisions regarding meals are made can be changing. Personas and messaging may need to be refined. But don’t assume that the changes are the same in all consumer categories. Many consumers now have less time, not more, as they try to balance a new work-home responsibilities as their children are at home throughout the day (see Influence Central’s blog post “Unique Challenges to Marketing to Moms During COVID-19”).

These are only examples, and the changes are as many and varied as there are market verticals and product categories. Each vertical and category has been affected in its own way. Do you know what these changes are? Do your clients know?

If your clients are waiting for states to reopen sufficiently to crank the marketing engines back up again, but aren’t considering the changes to their messaging, segmentation, and product positioning resulting from radically changed home and work environments that have occurred in the meantime, they are only seeing half the picture. If their marketing is going to achieve the ROI they’re hoping for, it’s important to help them see the whole one.