Decoding Consumer Buying Behavior Amid COVID-19 Crisis
Like we are all aware, the consumer currently has got confined to their respective homes during the lockdown period. The central aspect revolving around consumer behaviour shall be how the businesses carefully and empathetically deliver multiple experiences, including goods and services.
The global impact of coronavirus has turned people’s lives and livelihoods upside down in a short period. Moreover, the same has pushed various companies to understand the effect on their businesses and recreate strategies.
Marketers, many working remotely from home, are adapting to an entirely new situation. The questions that arise are how exactly they should be communicating with their customers? Where they should be investing and where they shouldn’t? And, lastly, what customer care means in this uncertain situation of fear, anxiety and confusion?.
Particularly in the challenging times of the pandemic lockdown, the nation requires companies to prioritise their customers’ interests over their own. To elaborate, it’s one of those times for them when they can lead and create long-lasting brand engagements. Moreover, the task of marketers will be to keep a real-time check on evolving customer preferences and expectations. Additionally, another task is to rapidly innovate to redesign the interaction journey with their target customers. Not only will the said process accelerate their businesses via customer loyalty but shall also build trust in the post-COVID-19 scenario.
Here are a couple of suggestions to help companies manage their customer engagement during COVID-19 crisis:
Care And Concern For Customers
At the time of crisis, the consumer needs extra information, guidance and support to navigate through a set of challenges. So, every interaction between the company and customers is an opportunity for them to demonstrate their brand and purpose.
Customers pay close attention to how organisations respond during stressful times. Further, care and concern expressed by purpose-driven companies result in stronger relationships and bonds that continue to endure for years.
Companies should focus on developing trust that will make their customers feel safe amidst the uncertainty. And, of course, to offer genuine support which leaves everlasting impressions in customers’ minds. Brands that take proactive steps to comfort customers, ensure their safety and financial confidence will earn substantial reputational benefits.
For instance, companies can change policies in place, do a flexible refund, pricing, and finding other ways to help their customers through this crisis, which will be beneficial to the long-term health of the companies. For Example Shanghai-based cosmetics brand Forest Cabin had to shut down 337 physical stores due to the COVID-19 outbreak. But, that did not stop the brand from engaging with their customers.
Airtel, one of India’s leading telecommunication service providers, caters to 144.76 million subscribers daily. They have a robust offline user base that walks into 500 company-owned and 1,500 franchise stores across India for payment and support. To encourage online adoption, the brand sent SMSes urging users to stay indoors and use their self-care app for bill payments, package activation, support, and more.
Promote Contactless Capabilities For Customers
A shock of this magnitude will change business and shopper’s habits in many ways. Contactless commerce could become the permanent norm for consumers as enforced behavioural change becomes an everyday habit. Companies have to convert the customer’s journey from the physical channel to contactless operations which can be made possible by adding a contactless delivery option in the app enabling pre-paid and doorstep delivery. For two, provide a place for customers to add delivery instructions in the app or online.
Pizza Hut, KFC and other restaurants in the world used short, informational videos to promote safe contactless delivery options on social media platforms. Restaurants around the world have started implementing secure contactless payment and delivery options without human contact.
Many companies in India have started transforming into a contactless safe delivery model. Walmart-owned Flipkart is in the process of hiring 4,000 people, Reliance Retail and Arvind Fashions are building methods for a surge in e-commerce and phone orders, and training workforce for safe contactless operations.
To conclude, consumer buying behaviour has taken on a new definition during the inevitable challenge of the COVID -19 pandemic. Marketers need to revisit and rethink their company’s value proposition to consumers, reassess which products and services can best deliver on that value proposition and re-architect how they get delivered to each geography.