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How has COVID-19 affected consumer behaviour?

Anyone with an iota of involvement in marketing will recently have found their inboxes inundated with insight on the impact of COVID-19. Regular readers will know we have been dissecting much of this insight in our own content output, including tips for advertising in a pandemic, and the impact of COVID-19 by sector.

As we entered our 4th week of lockdown, Thinkbox published a report offering predictions on the anticipated changes to purchasing habits within the global life-changing circumstances all consumers are in. The report looks beyond the inevitability of e-commerce booms caused by necessity and looks at how the change in consumers’ circumstances may lead to widespread shifts away from old habits and regular products.

In summary, the author, behavioural scientist Richard Shotton, found through his studies that the disruption caused by a major life event (e.g. starting university, getting married, having a baby, etc.) causes consumer brand selection habits to change. Rather remarkably, the findings show this extends beyond categories linked to the life change itself. For example, a house move increased the probability trialling of a different makeup brand.

Shotton reports that both social distancing and in future, what will be the end of it, have significant similarities to a major life event. The disruption caused by both events will likely lead to shifts in consumer purchasing habits, and more significantly, on a scale unparalleled by any other event in this generation. This means advertisers have both the opportunity of new customer acquisition, but also the threat of customers migrating to try new brands.

All Response Media viewpoint
This shift in consumer propensity to try new brands means advertisers need to track customer behaviour more than ever. All sectors will be impacted in different ways across the long and short-term; some positively, and many others negatively. Here are some thoughts on how advertisers can stay prepared:

What’s changed with your audience?

  • It is difficult to predict the new normal as consumer behaviour is rapidly changing. ARMalytics® enables us to monitor near term behavioural changes, allowing us to optimise our acquisition strategies to take full advantage of media market conditions.
  • It is important to look at overall purchase sentiment for the sector. At All Response Media, we use tools such as YouGov BrandIndex to pace the audience’s sector purchase intent.
  • Furthermore, tools such as Google Analytics can offer insight into shifts in up and downstream traffic (where site visitors visited before and after your site) which might indicate where else consumers may be shopping.

How have their purchase journeys changed?
The Drum recently reported that in sectors where demand has increased, shopping cart abandonment has seen an upturn as stocks run low. Brands should also consider if their order values have changed in light of stockpiling.

Share of voice
We recently discussed the importance of brand building during this period. Keeping an eye on the competition through our Enemy tool and 3rd party reporting has never been a more critical part of our service to clients. Although conversions to a sale may be challenging at present, less competitor noise, plus cheaper cost per thousands (CPTs) could just create the perfect landscape for building share of voice.

Unless equipped with a crystal ball, it is exceptionally difficult to predict exactly what the medium-to-long-term impact will be on consumer buying, which is entirely at the mercy of external factors such as lockdown timeframes and the overall economy. However, it is possible to prepare for all eventualities by ensuring we understand our audience, competitor landscape and media trends in order to be able to react accordingly when the time comes.

Stay safe and stay in touch with your ARM client teams! For more information on the TV services, we offer click here.