Stay-at-home orders across the globe have had an immediate impact on consumers. Streaming times are at an all-time high, food delivery services are at max capacity, and almost all of us have become gamers.
Still, the real question marketers are grappling with as mandates are slowly lifted is if the disruption in purchase routine will affect consumer behavior long-term -- and if so, how.
Marketers rely on segmentations that change slowly over time to understand consumer behaviors and psychographics. The pandemic has shattered many segmentations, as consumer behaviors have changed drastically over the past several months.
We have long believed, as marketers, that consumer values and beliefs are relatively consistent, and if they do change, they change slowly. But the pandemic is poised to accelerate these shifts and alter how we measure consumer behavior going forward.
Consumer Behavior vs. Consumer Psychographics
There is a multitude of data available outlining how consumer behavior has changed. We can discern these changes, even without data, based on the disruptions playing out in news headlines. What is not being discussed is the underlying psychological impact that the pandemic is having on consumers that is likely to last after the curve flattens.
One example of a psychographic data point that often goes unmeasured is optimism. Traditionally, multicultural audiences have generally been more optimistic about the future than their counterparts, resulting in increased spending across various categories ranging from automotive to technology.
However, as this pandemic shuttered our economy, one would assume that this optimism would wane, especially since the pandemic seems to impact minorities disproportionately. However, recent data tells a different story: Multicultural consumers are still optimistic about the future and will play a key role in rebuilding our economy.
However, one value likely to change is the importance of brand attributes for businesses most affected by the pandemic, such as retail and restaurants. According to our recent studies, cultural background plays a significant role in what attributes consumers value in these two industries. As time goes on, we anticipate seeing attributes like cleanliness rise closer to the top, while other attributes like value and experience shift down.
As consumer psychographics begin to change, brands and companies need to pay attention. There will be no going back to “normal,” so your old models won’t work.
There will be no new normal either, as Charlie Echeverry of marketing company Black//Brown has said. The pandemic will give rise to what he calls the “next normal,” which will largely be defined by a change in consumer psychographics, not consumer behavior. Creating “next normal” segmentation will give brands a new baseline to start building culturally sensitive marketing campaigns that appeal to and meet the needs of the post-pandemic consumer.