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Customer Behavior Changes During COVID-19


Welcome to the Dove Direct Print and Marketing Blog. Today's post, "Customer Behavior Changes During COVID-19," introduces changes in customer behavior during the pandemic from the latest CMO Survey. It's one thing to delve into strategic business modifications from the organization's viewpoint; simultaneously, it is also critical to understand how marketers view these changes and the ramifications of consumer marketing during a pandemic.

We all know that digital marketing has finally found solid footing with more consumers prone to engage in immersive digital customer experiences. This is especially true now given the number of workers and customers who are sheltering in place. In addition, new digital platforms have and will continue to emerge to alleviate the disruption caused by the pandemic and WFH (work from home) directives.

Our Quote of the Day: "Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less." - Marie Curie, Physicist

Customer Behavior

Customer behavior generally reflects marketers' perception of the economy, company performance, and changing trends within quarterly business cycles. Marketers also pay close attention to customer behavior throughout the marketing and advertising process.

During this pandemic, customers have shown an increased receptiveness to the latest digital offerings at 85%. Customers also had a higher appreciation for digital experiences with 84%.  Lastly, 79% of the surveyed said they had an increased appreciation for businesses in pursuit of "doing good."

Given the overwhelming response to the digital space, businesses should review their digital presence. Now is the time to check all the digital boxes that can apply.Your digital presence should include a website, a weekly blog, a social media platform array with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other frequently updated channels, along with email communications and videos. A comprehensive digital footprint during a pandemic signals to customers that you care and have made your firm available to them.

Customer Likelihood to Purchase

Many organizations have changed how they do business. Restaurants close dining tables and serve pick-up and delivery only. Salons may stagger appointments. Some businesses are operating by remote only. While some business models have changed, customers are also altering their behavior. Sixty-seven percent (67%) demonstrate a lower likelihood to purchase at this time. And, 43 percent (43%) of those willing to buy now, are unwilling to pay full price. These two trends, purchase postponement and seeking lower prices, have contributed to the crestfallen financial performance of the 2020 second quarter.

While neither trend, fewer sales, and lower price points, is positive, keep in mind that some industries expect customers to haggle over price. The automotive industry comes to mind with its price-driven advertising over the past decade. In some ways, we have all been a victim or victor of price discount wars for years. The good news is that the marketing community believes that these customer behaviors will readjust to more normal levels in the next 6 to 12 months, with customers willing to pay the asking price.

Trust Rises By Double-Digits

The pandemic and the information surrounding the nation's health crisis has ushered trust to the forefront. So it may not be surprising to know that marketers believe and predict that customers will continue to place a higher value on relationships they consider trustworthy.

Trusting relationships rose from 19.9% during the Great Recession of 2009 to 27.2% in February 2020. Since then, customers have prioritized trusting relationships to the tune of 29.3% as of June 2020. That's a whopping 10 percent increase placing trustworthiness front and center during this pandemic.

On the other hand, 29.6% prioritized low prices in 2009, but that dropped to 10.4% in February 2020 and increased to 18.4% in June 2020. However, one should note that low price remains a priority behind trust, quality, and service, but ahead of innovation.

The Digital Behavior

One of the primary changes that have occurred as a result of the pandemic is digital behavior. The CMO Survey measures the degree that customer behavior embraces digital during the pandemic. Here are more stats from the survey, including how customers feel about the "do good" aspect.

  • 97.0% - Lower in person marketing engagement (e.g., sales/store visits, trade shows)
  • 84.8% - Increased openness to new digital offerings introduced during the pandemic
  • 83.8% - Increased value placed on digital experiences
  • 79.1% - Greater acknowledgment of companies' attempts to "do good"
  • 67.2% - Lower likelihood to buy
  • 65.4% - New customers have been attracted to our products and services
  • 59.5% - More reviews/blogging/posting about brands online
  • 58.8% - More online research before purchasing
  • 43.3% - Unwillingness to pay full price
  • 24.9% - Weaker loyalty levels
  • 24.0% - Lower likelihood to purchase online
  • 23.8% - Weaker concerns about privacy

There's a lot to unpack inside those numbers. At first glance, some may view the results as doom and gloom; however, there are sweet spots.

For example, while 67.2% stated they are less likely to buy, 65.4% are attracted to a brand's new products and services, meaning only 2 percent would be unwilling to buy, and 65.4% are looking at new brands and their product sets. It's an excellent time to market to those looking for other products and services within a category.

Besides, 59.5% are looking for reviews, blogs, and brand posts online (social media and websites) and fall squarely in the auspices of brands that are up-to-date with their digital offerings.  Further, 24.9% are in the weakened loyalty levels, which means that brands have the opportunity to target the non-loyal.

The Net-Net

While the survey suggests that the marketing community predicts that routine business operations could return in the next 6 to 12 months, a good number of marketers predict that it could be as long as 1 to 2 years before we see normal.  What they do agree on is that increased digital behavior is here to stay.

Brands and marketers are now able to understand these customer behavior changes and adapt accordingly, recognizing that there is potential for new brand loyalty opportunities. Thanks for reading "Customer Behavior Changes During COVID-19!"

Let's have a conversation about integrated business solutions and how they can help grow your business, change behavior, and improve the customer experience.

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Dove Direct, your Atlanta based print and mail solutions provider, offers organizations end-to-end data, printing, and mailing solutions: Data Management, Variable Digital Printing, LetterShop and Fulfillment, Fully Automated MLOCR Presort Bureau, Marketing and Production Management Support and Secure Data Life Cycle Management.

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