We believe there is light at the end of the tunnel. We know that the world will get back to normal and we can get back to doing the things we love. Going out for dinner and a movie, spending time with friends and family, visiting art galleries and amusement parks, walking on the beach or in the park, traveling, and of course, shopping at the mall! All those things we used to enjoy without the worry of catching COVID and risking our lives or the lives of others.
However, the world has changed. We as consumers have changed with the pandemic. Changes that will stay with us as we enter the “new normal” in the post-pandemic era.
The question is if your brand and business are fine-tuned to meet the impact of COVID19 on your customers’ buying decisions?
In this article, I will provide you with some of the newest insights into the impact of COVID-19 on consumer psychology and behavior. The purpose is to help you know what to look for when you fine-tune your brand and business to the social and commercial implications of the pandemic.
LAX during the pandemic
When I grew up one of my favorite stories was about a boy who suddenly woke up to a world where he was on his own. Nobody to tell him that he couldn’t eat all the candy that he wanted. Nobody to tell him what to do. In the beginning, the boy was thrilled. Being alone in the world was all he had ever dreamed of. But after a while, it wasn’t that much fun anymore. He started to feel lonely.
I had the same experience walking through LAX from the domestic terminal to the international terminal in September 2020 at the outset of the pandemic before anyone had been vaccinated. In the beginning, the walk between terminals was nice. No one was slowing me down or standing in the way. But after a while I got fearful. No one to ask for directions. No laughs or chatter of happy traveling people. I walked and walked down the long corridors of LAX. Not a soul in sight. All the stores and coffee shops were closed. Thinking about the childhood novel and The Martian all alone in space.
Finally, I turned a corner and saw a janitor. I got so excited. A real human being! “Excuse me, Sir,” I said. “Can you tell me if I am on my way to the international terminal?” I asked. The janitor also seemed happy to talk to another human being. He asked: “Where are you going?” We talked for a little while and he assured me that I was walking in the right direction.
I continued and finally, I got to the international terminal where there was an open store! I could finally purchase some snacks for my international flight – all with the proper social distancing of course.
Walking through LAX during the pandemic was a mind-blowing experience. It showed me how much the world has changed. It showed me the impact of the pandemic on our social interactions in a very personal way. This was the feeling of loneliness and isolation.
Suddenly it made me think of Mowgli from Jungle Book, my girl-scout name. Mowgli was a child alone in the jungle. Now I understood why he associated with the animals – even though some of the animals were a risk to his life, the human need for connection and belonging is strong- no matter where we are or who we are.
The Rise of ‘Lonely Consumers’
As a long-time business consultant, I’ve been fascinated with the change in consumer behavior since the pandemic began. Recently, I came across a study describing the impact of the pandemic on consumer psychology and behavior. The study describes the rise of ‘Lonely Consumers’ as a result of the pandemic.
Key points from this study will help you identify the impact of COVID-19 on your consumers and what to do about it. Ultimately the goal is to meet your client’s needs and affect their buying decisions in the “New Normal”.
The need to belong
Some major changes within the ‘Lonely Consumers’ psychology and buying behaviors are:
- Attachment to products with human-like features to replace the need for ‘real interaction’. You might consider human-like brand mascots, brand logos with smiling faces, or human-like emotions. ‘Lonely consumers’ prefer products that signal positive psychological states and with a brighter rather than darker appearance (dark is associated with negative emotions)
- The absence of social support leads to compulsive buying behavior, and riskier financial decisions or materialism. When experiencing loneliness, emotionally vulnerable customers are much more open to affective appeal in persuasions.
- The unfulfilled human connection needs to find fulfillment in the virtual world. This can lead to an addiction to the internet and attachment to social media. As a result, the ‘Lonely Consumer’ compensates with an attachment to marketplace relationships with salespersons, brand communities, or online celebrities.
Does your brand or business meet the consumers’ need to belong? Here are 3 Simple Steps to Check…
You can follow these 3 simple steps to fine-tune your market strategy to meet the needs of the ‘Lonely Consumer’ in the Post-Pandemic Era:
- Review your market strategy: Meet your customer’s needs to be connected and affiliated
- Increase virtual presence: Use social media, email, and video to meet their need to be part of a virtual community, a brand community, a social group, or provide a relationship with in-store salespeople.
- Analyze your visual support: Make sure your brand signals warmth, brightness, humanness, crowds, smiles, and positivity.
I know this can be a large task to investigate on your own. I would be happy to put my business expertise to work to help you review your current marketing material. Get a pair of professional outside eyes to examine and improve how your product and brand meet the needs of your customers in the post-pandemic era.
About Sophie H Higgins, MA, MBA, MBC: I’m a freelance copywriter, professional speaker, philosophical business coach, and martial artist. I specialize in providing high quality content and in helping people and businesses grow. Need a resourceful writer and professional content provider? I can help you achieve your goals.