Meet the ‘Consumer of 2021’ and Prepare for the World After the Pandemic

February 5, 2021 6 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The pandemic changes the way consumers behave in all aspects of their lives. As they took refuge in their homes, they adopted new digital services at a dizzying rate. In addition to the growing health and hygiene concerns, the economic recession and the related decline in consumption , the change in people’s lives is staggering.

1. At home

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During the confinement, the house became a multi-universe. It is where various activities such as working, eating, playing and connecting with family and friends take place. Although general consumption decreases, the part allocated for the categories at home increases. Throughout the months of social isolation, the net intention of consumers to participate in a variety of activities at home changes, increasing cooking by 54%, home entertainment from 30% to 40%, and home entertainment by 22%. home improvement. The changes are similar around the world.

2. Shopping

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In general, consumption will decrease. A 17% drop in private consumption is expected as a global average in the next two years, with a recovery to pre-crisis levels only for 2023-24. Purchases change in all categories. One syntax is more basic products and less luxury: “less cosmetics and more flour.” A strong preference for global A brands was detected. After years of growth, consumption outside the home almost disappeared and many stopped going to the stores altogether. In many markets, the rise of e-commerce equates to several years of growth in just a few months.

3. Work

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For many workers, the office is now in the living room. For those who can still work during the pandemic, the work is largely remote and digital, with a sharp uptick in the use of digital collaboration tools. Zoom’s daily user base grew from 10 million people to 200 million in three months, and customers who pay team communication tools like Slack, for example, doubled. There is a high unemployment rate in the world.

4. Health and wellness

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Public health and uncertainty about the duration of the pandemic became the main concerns for consumers during lockdown, with 68% saying they were very concerned. Here, too, digital plays a larger role as the use of electronic pharmacy and electronic medicine accelerates. Of consumers who had to cancel medical appointments during lockdown, 44% accessed telehealth options, and online searches for telemedicine increased more than ninefold.

5. Education and learning

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Learning and study became virtual. The adoption of new tools was promoted. The user base for remote learning services grew 120%. The shift in learning from outside the home to indoors blurred the lines between learning and leisure.

6. Entertainment

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Consumers are spending less money on their entertainment as the trend toward digital options accelerates. Game app downloads increased more than 30% while 45% of consumers report using more online streaming services at home. Popular out-of-home activities are trying to adapt to this new reality and Nascar and NBA launch product offerings online while cultural centers like the J. Paul Getty Museum create virtual tours, and streaming performances like the one in Metropolitan Opera.

7. Travel and mobility

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Consumers are staying home in droves. Tourism takes place almost entirely on land. Air travel is down 90% overall. At the same time, there is an emerging preference to avoid public transportation and high-density transit hubs, lowering consumer demand on the go. While international travel could take years to recover to pre-crisis supply and demand levels, domestic travel could increase much sooner as consumers start their summer vacation.

8. Communication and information

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In general, media consumption is increasing on almost all channels. 43% of consumers watch more television, 40% use more social networks and 28% listen to more radio. The online news reader increased 39%. What is not winning? Print media, where the ongoing decline slows with a 33% drop in readership.

In the new normal, nothing is uniform

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While a new digital world is portending in general, the pace at which we reach the next normal, and the routes we take to get there, will not be uniform. The behavior changes are likely to continue for the next six to 24 months, with frequent starts, stops and restarts.

Whether the new behaviors fade or last in the next normal will depend on a series of factors, among which the experiences of the consumer, country, consumer segment and values stand out.

A) Consumer experience. How attractive and satisfying the consumer behaviors they displace are will determine how long they stay in the market. Even if they become permanent or not.

B) Country. Although the trends are similar across countries, their strength varies. In general, we see that four country archetypes emerge:

  • Temporary setback. In China, the economic impact of COVID-19 is likely to be just one more bump in the road, so trends such as downward trade or declining discretionary spending will be less intense than elsewhere.
  • A great impact. In developed countries like the United Kingdom and the United States, the economic impact is great. Similar to the Great Recession of 2008-09, we expect to see large long-term cuts in consumer discretionary spending and a significant number of operations will be reduced.
  • Big shock , less digital adoption. In the developed countries of continental Europe, such as France, Germany, Italy and Spain, the economic impact will be as great as in the United Kingdom and the United States, leading to a decrease in discretionary spending. Furthermore, countries with companies that depend on foreign tourism revenue, such as high fashion stores in Paris or Rome, will suffer disproportionately.
  • Digital acceleration. The impact on developing markets such as India and Brazil is less clear and will largely depend on how well these countries manage the crisis in the months to come. However, COVID-19 is very likely to accelerate the trend towards digital, albeit from a low base.

C) Consumer segment. Consumers generally adopt new behaviors but there are significant socioeconomic status and generational differences.

D) Values. Behaviors driven by personal values, such as sustainability or a desire for personal interaction, can vary in their long-term adoption rates between countries and regions, depending on local infrastructure and other conditions.

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