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67% of consumers expect the pandemic to have lasting effects into 2022, new study shows

Written by Contributor, on 1st Feb 2021. Posted in General

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 It's a difficult time not only for brands but also for customers. SheerID and CommerceNext wanted to find out how retailers and brands can connect emotionally with consumers in these uncertain times. Here's what they found with their survey. 

The COVID-19 ongoing pandemic messed up everybody's finances, mental and emotional wellbeing, and day-to-day normality. The outbreak of the pandemic changed everything, including how brands do business and how customers buy

More precisely, as the coronavirus pandemic forced countries around the world into lockdowns, much of all of us took for granted before March 2020 disappeared, including commuting to work, browsing in shops in shopping malls, going to the cinema, or simply meeting our friends for a cup of coffee. Since March, people around the globe were forced into the world's largest work-from-home experiment and everything about how we work, travel, communicate, shop, and more changed. 

Until last year, 80% of US retail was physical. However, the pandemic transformed everything when it forced brick-and-mortar retailers to close their doors. Both customers and brands went online to continue their relationship. But has the consumer-brand relationship changed? 

In the light of these events, SheerID and CommerceNext joined forces for a new study that aimed to gauge the emotional pulse of consumers during these uncertain times. Here's what the new study found: 

New study findings on what consumers want 

Will the changes in consumer behavior caused by the pandemic last in the post-COVID world? Or will consumers' old habits die hard? Let's see exactly what consumers want, according to this new study. 

The study involved a survey of 1030 customers and was conducted between December 2 and December 9. Researchers wanted to find out the way consumers want brands to help and connect with them during these uncertain times. 

Based on the study, more than two-thirds of the respondents, 67% of them, agreed that they believe that the pandemic will continue to impact their lives up to a year or more. 

What's more, when asked about the way consumers feel impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, most of them agree that they felt mentally affected by the pandemic. More precisely, 49% of respondents said they feel the need to keep their friendships with their peers and social interactions, while 48% of them also addressed the importance of maintaining their mental health. As for the physical impacts of the pandemic, 29% of respondents stressed the importance of keeping their physical health, and 25% focused on their financial wellbeing. 

As a way to support consumers' concerns caused by the pandemic, 41% of them agree that they wish retailers and brands to serve their needs by keeping employees on staff, which was the third most popular answer researchers got from the respondents. Besides that, 51% of respondents said that retailers could support their concerns by providing them with free shipping. Additionally, 43% of them wished for extra promotions from brands to them, while 30% of them also supported the idea of extra benefits for affected groups of people such as front-line health workers. 

Researchers also wanted to find out what consumers feel about "purpose-driven" brands and see how customers distinguish between brands that are doing the right thing in general vs. doing the right thing for them. So, when asked, "what does purpose-driven mean to you?" the four most popular responses were: 

• Companies that stand for something bigger (39% of respondents agreed on this one).

• Companies that follow ethical and sustainable business practices (36% of respondents thought so).

• Companies that are open and transparent (30% of respondents answered so).

• Companies that treat their employees well (30% of respondents said so). 

Besides that, researchers also wanted to see how respondents rate lower benefits that would only benefit them. The findings are: 

• Companies that have the same values and the values they believe in (18% of respondents believed so) 

• Companies that support causes and organizations that they believe in (16% of respondents agreed on this one) 

Overall, 46% of consumers claimed that they are more likely to purchase goods and services from brands that share their beliefs and values. That being said, the overall conclusion of researchers was that consumers certainly still want great deals from brands. Yet, they also tend to gravitate towards those brands that consider society's needs as a whole, not brands that offer benefits that only cater to their consumers.

What do your customers want?

Are you aware of what your consumers want in these certain times? If not, you should really try to understand their needs and wants in such a sensitive moment of their lives. 

Why knowing what your customers want is so important? As the market research experts from Opinipoll explain, "No business can be successful without loyal paying customers. Yet, to keep customers coming back to your business, you have to provide them with exactly what they want and need. So, you have to listen to their opinions."

Here's what you should find out about your target audience

Who your buyer persona is?

Start by understanding who is buying from you. And, most importantly, find out why they are buying from you. You can learn from your loyal customers what you are doing right or what you can improve. The more you know what your customers want, the better you can serve them. 

Where can you reach them?

Marketing is really important to keep customers engaged and attract new ones. But where can you reach your target audience? Is it online? Do customers spend most of their time on a certain social media platform? What type of content do they want to see? 

Why they prefer your competitors 

Not every customer in your target audience buys from your business. Find out what is making your target audience buy from your competitors. 

How can you improve your services or products? 

Successful businesses always strive for improvement and innovation. Ask your customers what are their needs and wants that you can satisfy by improving your services or products. 

Image source: https://unsplash.com/s/photos/consumers

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