COVID-19 leads to big changes in consumer behaviour

covid-19 consumers

New research conducted by digital agency Organic reveals that COVID-19 has driven significant behaviour and attitude changes among most UK consumers.

A staggering 84% of UK and US consumers believe their behaviours have changed as a result of the pandemic, impacting both their personal and professional lives.

Revealed ahead of the monthly ONS figures (Friday 23 October), Organic’s research surveyed 1,000 consumers (across the UK + US) to explore the ‘why’ behind these behaviour shifts; how the great pause led to the great shift in consumer attitudes and their everyday lives; and what it means for the business landscape.

Impact of tiered lockdowns

As the nation moves into tiered and partial lockdowns, changes in behaviour are becoming more entrenched and longer lasting, Organic said. More than half of respondents (55%) believed this change is either for a long time or permanent.

This includes attitudes to where and how people socialise shifting dramatically, with 91% changing and 44% completely changed in their approach. Some changes are more obvious than others, like mask wearing for example, which is now compulsory by law. Disposable masks are now commonplace and can easily be bought from sites like Masks have also become fashionable, with many choosing to wear patterns to match their outfit, or slogans such as BLM for the Black Lives Matter movement. Companies have also cashed in on the shift towards mask-wearing, with staff being required to wear branded masks with the company logo or colours to enhance their brand identity.

The research demonstrates how the pandemic has altered consumer behaviour across various sectors and certain demographics more than others. For example, it shows that the pandemic has impacted women more significantly (79%) and has a longer lasting impact than amongst men.

Almost three quarters (73%) of consumers said their personal priorities have changed. Organic sees this as is big news for brands, who need to adapt quickly in how they are conversing with their customers in this new world.

Especially as how and where people shop (as more people switch to online) has changed the most, with more 91% adapting their behaviours and priorities in this space.

Making sure to take into consideration these new priorities for consumers is key, as being ignored is now a real risk for brands.

The research also found that 30-44-year old’s in particular have experienced a greater shift in priorities, attitudes and behaviours than those over 60, as they’ve adjusted to life in the pandemic.

The findings show that consumer changes have implications across every decision a brand makes in the current environment. So, they need to react quickly in response to these new behaviours in order to continue to engage their target audience.

Good news for brands

But there is good news for brands who seek to embrace the call to action. The specific conditions that exist right now mean organisations are far more open to change, and the cost of change will be far less.

Key stats from the research include:

  • New habits for a new world: 84% of consumers surveyed in the US and UK think their behaviours and habits have changed going forward in the light of Covid-19.
  • Personal priorities pushed to the top: 73% think their personal priorities changed in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Change for good: More than half (55%) of respondents believe change is permanent or will last a very long time.
  • Looking to the long term: Only 8% believe this change is short term.
  • The end of the travel bug: 88% intend to change how they travel in the future and one third (33%) have completely changed their attitude to travel.
  • Saving for a rainy day: The majority (88%) of people intend to save more in the future, with 22% completely changing their attitude towards saving.

“Change is constant – it’s just that most of the time it happens so slowly or in such small ways, that we don’t always notice”, James Moffat, Executive Chairman of Organic said.

“In under a year we have seen a shift in consumer behaviours and attitudes, equivalent to what we would expect over a decade in pre-COVID times.

“That’s why the research we’ve launched helps tell the story of the effect COVID-19 has had on our day-to-day lives.

“Otherwise known as The Great Shift, our whitepaper offers a strategic framework for brands to use not only in response to COVID-19, but also in the future in order to remain customer centric and digitally relevant in an increasingly transformed world.

“Our message to brands is clear – shift, or off the pot! Your customer has shifted, and they won’t wait around for you.”

See also:

Business life after lockdown 1.0 – Cat Davis