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Changing Consumer Behavior

This conversation about changing consumer behavior patterns due to the pandemic is trending on LinkedIn this week:

The coronavirus pandemic has reshaped consumer behavior and the marketing landscape, pushing companies to rethink how they interact with customers. Amid social distancing measures and shutdowns of brick-and-mortar stores, e-commerce sales are booming — growing 76% in June, according to Digital Commerce 360. Meanwhile, shoppers continue to prioritize their spending on essentials such as grocery and household goods. As consumers become more open to digital experiences and increasingly value social good efforts, advertising and marketing sectors are adapting business models and the type of projects they pursue in a time of financial uncertainty.

Watch the conversation here or with Walmart Chief Customer Officer Janey Whiteside and NYU Professor Scott Galloway discussing how brands have responded to the pandemic from shopper shifts to marketing changes.

Change, especially in a pandemic, can be daunting. Here are some resources and suggestions to help prepare your business .

Meet your customers where they’re heading!

Tips to foster relationships and build customer loyalty – As businesses navigate reopening amidst uncertainty, customers are making their own decisions about where and how to make purchases. Fostering relationships with returning customers and rewarding customer loyalty are crucial during this time. Here are eight tips for reengaging loyal customers.
Tips for managing customer experience – The consumer experience has changed since the onset of stay at home orders. Social distancing requirements, masks, and ubiquitous hand sanitizer are reminders of why we need these precautions. We know that emotions strongly impact purchasing decisions. Anxiety and frustration are common, and disappointed expectations can make things worse. Make your business feel good. It will help customers be comfortable now and build loyalty that carries into the future. Here are six tips for welcoming your customers back into a positive experience, even if things are different.
Tips for sales teams going virtual – COVID-19 has forced sales teams to radically adapt. “Consider how important the handshake has been in sales culture for generations,” writes U.S. Chamber of Commerce Contributor Nicole Fallon in this article. “It simply can’t be replicated over video chat.” That said, relationships are still vital. How can we cultivate connections at a distance? Here are five tips to help pivot your sales process for virtually mediated business.
Scenario planning and preparation  – Scenario planning is a powerful tool for developing strategy, especially given the complex web of unknowns in which we find ourselves. It leverages the cognitive, creative power of narrative to imagine and respond to possible futures. The thought experiment yields critical analysis, important insights, and the ability to innovate and prepare for a variety of eventualities.

Scenario Planning for Pandemic Outcomes

“Significant uncertainty surrounds what the ‘new normal’ could look like for firms beyond the COVID-19 crisis. But scenario thinking can help organizations better anticipate and adapt to dramatic changes, increase agility and resilience, and turn uncertainty into advantage,” according to this Knowledge@Whatron article.

Scenario planning is a powerful tool for developing strategy, especially given the complex web of unknowns in which we find ourselves. It leverages the cognitive, creative power of narrative to imagine and respond to possible futures. The thought experiment yields critical analysis, important insights, and the ability to innovate and prepare for a variety of eventualities.

For scenario planning to be as useful as possible, entire teams should be engaged and invested. If delegated to a small group as a fringe project, the resultant lessons will have diminished impact, cautions this piece by business consultancy McKinsey. The exercise works best when the narratives around each scenario are all deeply developed. The more information and connections a scenario involves, the more instructive its consideration will be.

Scenarios should represent a spectrum of good and bad situations. You can think of them as laying over a graph in which the x and y axes represent best and worst case predictions for key factors. For example, take economic recovery (weak to strong) and social/consumer behavior (scared to confident). Scenarios in that case might occupy quadrants such as “struggling economy and consumers are staying home,” “economy is picking up but consumers are avoiding public spaces,” “economy is still low but people are eager for new consumer experiences,” and “businesses are bouncing back and consumers are venturing out again.” Planning deeply for each scenario allows you to create a playbook and to better recognize patterns on the horizon. This Forbes piece outlines a step-by-step guide for applying scenario planning to your business.

One of the most useful and most challenging aspects of scenario planning is thinking beyond your own expectations in order to plan more comprehensively. McKinsey shares this advice (summed up concisely in this infographic) for navigating the perils of bias.