At the same time, consumer demand and channel preferences have seen large and sudden shifts. Digital commerce, for example, is expected to have increased by a huge 160% among new or previously low-frequency shoppers according to new Accenture research.
Indeed, many of the changes we’re seeing are likely going to be permanent. There’s no going back to the pre-pandemic world for consumer brands.
Home is the heart
One inevitable consequence of stay-at-home orders is that the home has become the heart of the consumer experience. This was a trend we were already seeing — but it has accelerated due to the pandemic.
This channel shift is an opportunity to get creative about consumer experiences. With many homebound, people are shifting to digital channels for the first time, and the potential audience for innovative brand experiences is that much higher.
There are socially positive sides to this recentering around the home, too. Nearly four in five households with children say they’re feeling more connected as a family. And with more time to spare, three in five consumers have been taking the opportunity to build their skills in areas like cooking and homebrewing.
For example, YouTube channel Pasta Grannies, which showcases Italian nonnas making traditional pastas, reported a spike in subscribers in recent months. Savvy brands can tap into this creative experimentation and these newfound passions to build deeper affinity with their customers.
Successful companies will be those that create a seamless end-to-end consumer journey. Automation and artificial intelligence can play an important part in delivering these kinds of hyper-relevant campaigns across channels.
Think safety, think small
How permanent is the shift to home consumption? It looks certain to outlive lockdowns at least. Our research shows that, even as economies start to reopen, many people remain uncomfortable about visiting public places. Brands and retailers will need to think carefully about how to make their physical retail spaces safe and reassuring if they want to tempt customers back into stores.
One way to do so might be to think small and local. Demand for local
goods—and local brands—is growing. The research shows more consumers want to shop at neighborhood stores and want to buy more locally sourced produce.
Brands can respond to this demand by looking to highlight the local provenance of their products. They should also consider working with smaller-format local stores and venues, helping them adapt to new social distancing and sanitization requirements at the same time.
Coming through stronger
We’re all yearning for a return to some kind of normality. But the reality is, the world has changed—and with it, people’s attitudes, consumption preferences, and shopping behavior. Brands can use this moment of unprecedented disruption as an opportunity to reset and reinvent the business for a more uncertain world and a new set of consumer desires and expectations.