A combination of lockdowns, store closures, social distancing, home working, mask-wearing, and other essential measures changed consumer needs and behaviors overnight.
However, with the end of the pandemic on the horizon, there are many reasons to believe that consumer goods will be one of the sectors to bounce back most strongly.
First among these is the industry’s history of technological innovation, which will be crucial in the post-COVID world. Those companies that made the pivot to ecommerce and digital services, leveraging the agility, scalability and resilience of cloud technology, will be well positioned.
A bounce forward, not back
For all the optimism, the fact remains that the pandemic has fundamentally changed the consumer landscape—in some ways permanently. Digital adoption, particularly ecommerce, has been accelerated by years in the space of a few months.
Recent Accenture research found that almost half of consumers will continue to go online for virtual consultations (e.g. hair, makeup). The research also found that consumers are three times more likely to purchase products such as make-up, fashion and food online now, compared to pre-pandemic.
These new online shopping habits are highly unlikely to just go away overnight. The combined effect is that the home will continue to be a much more central part of the consumer experience than it was pre-pandemic. It’s also likely to be a more fluid experience, with consumer, social and work activities intertwined throughout the day.
Digital solutions will predominate for now
This focus on the home consumer could be good news for CPG brands, which have generally been at the forefront of the drive to expand D2C channels, subscription models, and smart home-delivery options.
What’s more, consumer brands are also leading in areas like digital chat services, video tutorials, and virtual consultations. These kinds of services will be just as important after the pandemic subsides.
Of course, physical retail will still be a key part of consumer brands’ strategies. But we should expect to see a lot of activity in the fusion of digital and physical experiences.
A recent Accenture report found that retailers and brands are doubling down on virtual technologies to create “Real Virtualities," defined as digital environments that are increasingly realistic, engage all senses, and create a greater connection to the physical world. Nine out of 10 C-suite executives of retail and consumer goods companies said they are investing in technologies to create virtual environments and plan to invest further.
Going forward, we can expect to see brands looking for ways to drive a much stronger sense of digitally added value in high-street retail locations. By using technology to personalize the experience—think personal skincare analysis and individually tailored products, for example—brands can provide a more “science-driven” answer to consumer needs.
Innovation is the key to post-COVID recovery
A combination of technology-led innovation and organizational agility means consumer goods companies are well placed to rebound strongly from the pandemic.
By continuing to drive forward with digital solutions for both home and retail, the industry will make deeper connections with post-COVID consumers.
That will be critical in capitalizing on the expected post-pandemic boom.