“When we are no longer able to change a challenging situation, we are challenged to change ourselves” – said Viktor Frankl, psychiatrist and neurologist. And the challenge came in the form and shape of the coronavirus lockdown. We must try to adjust to that reality. And we are.
Big shifts in consumer behaviour are happening right now. Starting with the shut-down of many industries, the coronavirus has forced on us to slow down our rampant consumerism, to think and reflect how in just a month or so our lives have changed. As the economy came to a standstill, with it came cleaner air, cleaner waters and the toxic smog above many cities and towns globally has receded significantly. What does that tell us? One thing for sure; we need to regroup and think how we shop, how we organise our economies, how we live our lives, and where our priorities lie.
Given the nature of the unprecedented challenge we are going through on a global level, I think much of the consumer behaviour post-pandemic will be driven by the underlying motivation to control the environment and protect our health.
Many people become megalomaniacs prioritising wrong and potentially destructive values that self-sabotage our true human values and needs. Massive consumerism, chasing profits and lack of compassion often lead to a way of life that is destructive which has been reflected in the factual reality of massive deforestation, catastrophic climate change, and the widespread contamination of Earth’s waters with plastic and oil spills.
Could we look at the unfolding pandemic as a wake-up call to look closer at how unwisely we have been living? We could and we should.
With the stores, shopping malls and social gathering places such as pubs, bars and restaurants closed, we are recognising different opportunities the lockdown offers. No more running from one meeting to another that made it easy to run away from ourselves and what matters most to us, without even realising it. The coronavirus pandemic released more time in our lives to practice self-reflection, to re-evaluate our goals and reconnect and strengthen relationships within the family. This opportunity is for grabs and I’m sure many people are capitalising on it.
Consumers are finding ways to keep themselves entertained, and are coming up with activities to make self-isolation a bit more interesting. They have been reconnecting with nature in the absence of leisure and entertainment that we have been used to for years. For those who have not been keen on exercising outdoors there are new activities to adopt if they want to get out of the confines of their homes. Walking, gardening, cycling, jogging and getting fresh supply of oxygen outdoors is something most of us look forward to in our slowed down lives.
And when indoors, our creative juices are flowing – we write, paint, do housework, update our CV, learn a new language, cook, bake, perform our own spa days, watch Netflix, listen to music and meditate…I’m sure there is a longer list of activities that people are performing to keep themselves occupied and avoid boredom. And that’s good as it contributes towards reduction in stress that lockdown brings.
So, what is going to drive the next big change in consumer behaviour? I think the focus will be on our health and wellbeing.
According to GlobalWebIndex research, in many countries worldwide consumers report that their mental health is a bigger worry than their physical health at the moment, while in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the two are equal concerns.
Physical or mental, most certainly one of the main trends that we are going to see is health oriented. As consumers we’ll be making mindful choices for sustainable lifestyles to protect and improve our physical and mental health, which then naturally leads to a much better quality of life but also helps to mitigate feelings of uncertainty.
Consumers’ priority of healthy living will be going from treating the symptoms into more of a preventative model whereby the positive lifestyle changes such as tailored nutrition, exercise, good sleeping habits, and developing good relationships will be applied as great buffers against stress and physical and mental health problems.
As wellbeing focused consumers are going to drive transformation in the retail space, now it’s the time to create innovative ways to engage with consumers on their wellbeing journey in the best possible ways. Think about forging relationships beyond transaction, ones that support the personal growth, health and positive transformation of your customers. They will love you for it.