We all know that there are leading and lagging indicators with behavioral change in any economic or business environment shift. Some changes are driven by innovation (think of the ripple effect the iPhone had on how people interact with myriad things). Some are driven by personal beliefs (e.g. reusable grocery bags to decrease plastic waste). And, some are driven by need (e.g. walking or biking to the grocery store because you don’t have transportation).
We are in a position with this pandemic where innovation is required, personal beliefs are being put to the test and basic needs are not being met – so all of these things are converging at once. As marketers, we try to get to the important questions. When everything changes, what do you pay attention to? Where do you start evaluating what to do? What industries are leading the way?
First, start with thinking about things that won’t change. Let’s look at food as an example. Everyone needs to eat, and for that reason the food industry is a leading indicator to consider. The pandemic is accelerating some of the trends that were already happening, like buying prepackaged meals and online shopping/grocery delivery. Some of the other trends:
- More people are growing their own fresh vegetables where they can
- There’s a renewed interest in cooking or learning to cook
- More households are food insecure and need help paying for groceries
- How people shopped has changed, resulting in more money spent per trip, shopping faster, buying a narrower range of foods and more money spent online*
These trends can highlight business insights of what people are looking for in their grocery or food choices. Consumers want to feel safe, they want to get through the store efficiently, they want to cook fresh foods and can’t afford waste. How can businesses change how they serve consumers and other businesses to meet these needs – to create efficiencies or help facilitate change? How can groceries/food related industries help supplement or ride along on these trends?
Another area to pay attention to is finances. The pandemic has caused financial strain, but people still need to manage and think about their money. How can financial services companies better serve their customers? Some of the trends:**
- People are not going into bank branches
- Faster adoption of digital banking services
- Acceleration of contactless payments
- Fewer cash and check transactions in favor of digital mobile wallet
How can financial institutions take advantage of these changes? Review the customer journey of online services and make sure it’s seamless. Anticipate the needs of the financially insecure or anxious and provide safety-net products, safe investments and helpful content to help customers navigate their way. What other ways can financial services help? Show support for the communities you are in, and make sure you don’t “disappear” during tough times. Show your humanity because that’s what is needed right now.
We are all working through the complications of this pandemic. If as a business enterprise you are trying to solve the right problems – the ones that truly help your customers and prospects find their way – you’ll come out on top.