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The New Consumer Mindset

September 04, 2020


The New Consumer Mindset

As September rolls around, many of us are ready to get back to routine. Most of us feel like the fall is time to settle back in and get serious anyway—summer vacation is over, and we’re busy at work. The kids usually head back to school and activities.

This year will be different in some ways, especially for parents. Managing work, school, buses, kid activities have all been reshaped and requiring more hands-on-planning in a world where everyone was hoping and craving routine more than ever. For now, familiar routines are being reinvented and things like remote work are going to stick around.

These behaviour changes are true in the marketing world as well. We’re seeing dramatic shifts in consumer behaviour. While it might seem like people changed their buying habits overnight, many of those behaviours have become sticky.

So, what does this new consumer mindset look like? How can we as Marketers adjust to it? Here are some thoughts to consider.

So Long, Bricks-and-Mortar

Online shopping has been growing for years now. It’s seen a real push in the last few years, but that was still nothing compared to the shove the pandemic gave it. Experts say our online shopping behaviour jumped eCommerce anywhere from four to six years into the future.

This shift has come at the cost of our bricks-and-mortar operations. Many of our physical stores were struggling before the pandemic hit. High rent and competition against online shopping were taking their toll on brands. We can see that in the bankruptcy of major clothing chains and the death of department stores like Sears.

Physical shops are going to continue to struggle. People have less time and the new consumer mindset isn’t focused so much on convenience but safety. People are worried about going in to physical shops—is it really safe? And what if the store doesn’t even have the item they want or the colour or their size? Is it worth the risk?

Convenience and safety are driving more consumers to try and solve their needs through e-commerce. Customers can go online, check stock, order the exact item they want in the colour and size they want. Then it's shipped right to their door—and there’s no need for them to see another person face-to-face. With the one differentiating fact that will ensure repeat business and an ability to build loyalty…service and ease of returns.

Even people buying items like skincare products, which have typically relied on in-store purchases, are saying they’re not planning to hit the mall any time soon. That leads to many questions about how Marketers like us need to adjust so we can reach these people.

Adjusting the Message: Values

Before we think about the how of reaching our customers, we should think about the messages we want to send. The new consumer mindset has shifted here as well. The messages we were sending before the pandemic aren’t going to resonate with people the same way now.

What values do our customers hold dear? The pandemic has put a renewed emphasis on a few different factors:

·          Community and local support

·          Social justice

·          Safety

·          Need

Many people are working on reduced income or are facing income insecurity soon. Many Canadians lost their jobs and have had to access benefits. With CERB ending soon and the job market only now picking up, people are nervous.

That means they’ve shifted to needs-based buying. Consumers are more likely to buy only what they need. They’re more likely to spend time evaluating how much they really need vs. want a product. Spending on non-essentials will likely continue to trend lower. We should note here that people have interesting ways of determining what’s “necessary” for them. In the event of another lockdown, spending on home entertainment would likely increase, for example.

People may also see part of their “essential” spending as helping their community. They may be less inclined to dine out in general. When they do, they might pick local “mom and pop” diners and restaurants versus big chains.

They’ll want to see the same commitment to community from the brands they shop with.

Safety plays into concerns about community, as does social justice. Our customers want to know how we’re helping people who have been affected by the pandemic. Are we rehiring people who were laid off or making an effort to help workers we couldn’t keep on payroll full-time? And when we can bring people back to the office or the plant or the showroom, how are we keeping them safe?

Social justice plays a role here as well. The pandemic has hit some communities harder than others. It’s put many more people at risk for becoming homeless. It’s squeezed people so that they might need to access thrift shops, food banks, or soup kitchens. Our customers can see these things happening in their local communities. They want to know how we’re going to help.

So our customers’ mindset about what matters has changed. Community and family, friendships, and so much more have now taken centre stage. We need to be addressing these concerns, speaking to these values. We need to tell our customers what we value and how we’re addressing those values.

The How: Reaching Customers

Let’s think specifically about the skincare category for a minute. Skincare has relied on in-store purchases, often with a “try-before-you-buy” component. Customers can get a free sample, test the product on their own skin, and then decide to buy.

How do we deliver that experience to them in the virtual space? We can’t—there’s no real way for them to try out a new cream. About the best we can do is package up samples of what they might like when they do buy something else.

Another challenge is how to even get our brands in front of new customers. Many would have learned about new brands and products in store. They may not even have been looking for something new. Online, if customers aren’t looking for new skincare products, it can be tougher to reach them.

This is where we can consider online ads or influencer marketer. Influencer marketing is particularly helpful, especially as beauty vloggers can test out products on camera—even over the course of a few days or a week or a month. They then upload the results and discuss the product with their followers.

People respond to this marketing, because the information comes from someone they trust. Most people follow personalities on YouTube or other social media because they like what the person does. Maybe they find the influencer’s insights helpful. Maybe they find them entertaining. Whatever the reason, they’re tuning in and listening.

Influencer marketing is one way of replacing some of the in-store outreach. Being present and active on social media is another key here. Our customers may not want to see us in-store, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have questions. Social media gives them an opportunity to connect with us, to ask those questions. We can keep building the same kind of relationships we work on in-store. We can also be seen by more people across our customers’ networks.

This is also a good place to communicate our values. We can highlight our community initiatives or how our products are helping our customers and those around them. Skincare, for example, might be part of someone’s new healthier lifestyle. It might be the key to helping another boost their confidence so they can ace their next job interview. It might even help some people support their mental health by providing a routine. And if our brand can give back to our workers, our customers, and our communities in another way? So much the better for everyone!

Mind over Matter

The world has changed, and so has how our customers think about it, about our products, and about their needs. Their values have shifted, and we’re going to have to adjust to this shift. The key is to be present and create avenues to have a dialogue with your potential customers. And a platform for your new customers to share their experiences, help answer questions in order to help others understand the unique value your brand provides.

By understanding the new consumer mindset—understanding their values—we can bring our brands more in line with what our customers need from us right now.

So remember: start with the why!


Meet Margo…brand visioning & marketing

Margo Jay is a Master Brand Strategist with a career leading globally recognized brands; developing and launching a proven model that maximizes competitive sales potential and consumer appeal. She has built the model to help companies of all sizes. Her Client roster includes entrepreneurs through to Fortune 100 brands: NHL teams, Global QSR brands, CPG brands, Broadcast brands, Agencies, Non Profit brands, Hard goods…this model and process provides competitive advantage in any category.

Complete clarity. Ownable distinct selling proposition. Shared values. Brand Clarity. Brand Focus. Brand Inspiration. Brand Obsession. Unlocking brand potential is what she does.

And it all starts with why!

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