Current research indicates that new habits formed now will endure beyond this crisis, permanently changing what we value, how and where we shop, and how we live and work. Listen up local business owners, this blog post is for you!
As a result of this COVID-19 outbreak, the whys, whats and hows of consumer buying is changing.
Consumer priorities have become centered on the most basic needs, sending a demand for hygiene, cleaning and staples products soaring, while non-essential categories slump. The factors that influence decisions are also changing as a “buy local” trend begins to rapidly accelerate.
You heard that right - a "buy local" trend is expected to soon accelerate when we start to phase back into some semblance of normalcy again. So what does that mean for you?
In times like these, our need for the basic necessities of life takes precedence. In this blog post, it is my hope to raise awareness on what's taking place in our consumer markets and hopefully inspire our local business owners, here in Eureka Springs, to shift their business model as this gradual shift in consumer behaviors continues to shift as well.
This health and economic crisis has already had a sustainable impact on consumer attitudes, behaviors and purchasing habits. All local business owners now have an opportunity before them to adapt to these coming consumer changes by taking action now to be positioned even stronger for the future.
First and foremost - know your consumer in crisis
Consumers are deeply concerned about the impact of COVID-19, both from a health and economic perspective - but believe it or not, consumers are currently showing that they are more fearful of the economic impact of COVID-19, than for their own health. (See Consumer Research Survey Results below.)
People are responding in a variety of ways and have differing attitudes, behaviors and purchasing habits. Fear is running high as individuals contemplate what this crisis means for them, but more significantly, what it means for their families and friends, and society at large.
Consumers are responding to the crisis in a variety of ways. Some feel anxious and worried, fueling panic-buying of hygiene products. At the other extreme, some consumers remain indifferent to the pandemic and are continuing their business as usual, despite recommendations from government and health professionals.
Take this time to research, study and find a way to understand how your consumers are reacting in particular, and develop customized and personalized marketing strategies for your customers.
Expect to see the following over the coming months (even years):
1. A rise in conscious consumption
Consumers are more mindful of what they’re buying. They are striving to limit food waste, shop more cost consciously and buy more sustainable options. Business owners will need to make this a key part of the shopping experience, dining experience, etc. by exploring new business models and new ways to be well positioned and well prepared NOW.
2. A growing love for local It is being discovered more and more that the desire to shop local is reflected in both the products consumers buy (e.g. locally sourced, artisanal, homemade, etc.) and the way in which they shop (e.g. supporting community stores, small business owners, restaurants, bars, galleries, cafes and shopkeepers.) Business owners will need to explore ways to connect locally – be it through highlighting local provenance, customizing for local needs or engaging in locally relevant ways of doing business differently.
3. The soaring DIY
With more than half (61%) of those surveyed planning to continue to watch more news after the outbreak, 55% plan to prioritize more time with family, be outdoors, garden, and work around the house and yard on some "do it yourself" (DIY) projects.
This trend is reflected in the types of apps that consumers are downloading since mid-March, related to these subjects in particular.
Regardless of all this new research and data, underlying consumer needs remain the same. Consumers coming to Eureka Springs have a need:
to be entertained.
to be informed.
... it is technology that is changing the way it all happens. So how are you changing with that trend?
Now, more than ever, our business owners in Eureka Springs, with this surge of "buy local" on the horizon, MUST broaden their business model to capture consumer driven needs, wants, desires and expectations as well as increase the focus of business marketing on digital vs. traditional tools to actively engage with consumers and improve guest and customer experiences.
New behaviors will transform the future
This COVID-19 outbreak has slowed the pace and changed daily life for many consumers, and this is having a profound impact on the way we view personal hygiene, health and how we engage with our communities, friends and families. People are embracing technology more than ever to support all aspects and consequences of isolation.
There is also positive evidence to suggest that this crisis will build communities, rather than separate them. Even when we're apart, we're connected!