Consumer behavior changes due to the influence of internal and external environments. The change increases during crises, creating new trends during and post-crisis. During the crisis, Expectations are conflicting, rumors are active, and companies may use information in unethical ways to create fake or exaggerated needs. Although the consumer is more cautious during the crisis, he would become more aware later, as different trends evolve, which may make the consumer wiser facing similar situations in the future. Below, we discuss the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on consumer behavior, and the new consumer trends towards the 4P’s of marketing mix (Product, Price, Promotion, and Place).
First: The Crisis Reflection on Consumer General Trend:
Consumer behavior is influenced by the imposition of social distancing, which in turn has promoted social media communications, taking greater advantage of others’ experiences for more successful purchases. Whereby the consumer became more experienced and interested in good nutrition, health, and spending behavior.
Also, quarantine, and/or staying at home for long periods, have created new hobbies and interests for consumers, that lead to reduced demand for specific products (goods or services), where they can be performed or made by the consumers themselves; thus, daily habits are changed, such as restaurant dining. In the same regard, the consumers’ interests toward fashion, smartphones, cars, and others had become less, given that there are more important issues that dominate their thinking.
So, increasing consumer awareness, changing habits, and generating new interests are all focused on essential products, where and how they are produced, in addition to the consumer’s increased ability to choose between alternatives, and the ability to change his behavior toward that. The consumer, therefore, will be more rational, reduces expenses, increases saving rather than investing, because of the feeling that saving is safer, especially since savings contribute to meeting the important needs when prices rise. Consequently, the consumer will think more economically, will avoid random expenditure, and will be better able to plan financially, adopting the policy of “keep a white coin for a black day”.
Second: The Response at the Level of Consumer Behavior:
We discuss here the consumers’ trends toward the 4P’s of the Marketing Mix
- Trends towards Product:
Once the crisis ends, consumer behavior will focus on purchasing commodities comparing to luxury items. If this doesn’t become permanent behavior, it will at least last for a long period. The consumer also will tend to buy in bulk and store basic goods and food commodities. Consumers will spend more on cleaning and sterilizing goods, personal hygiene ad care products than they used to spend or budget for these products before.
On the other hand, if governments notice the importance of their role, they’ll consider developing policies to support and encourage local and domestic production, rather than importing because of its difficulty and possible risks during the crisis. It was spotted when many consumers found themselves dependent completely on the domestic product, avoiding the foreign ones, especially when those products originated in countries that were linked to the crisis. This is expected to last post the crisis, and the consumer would have a better preference for the local or national products that he was not accustomed to using before.
The crisis led consumers to feel vigilant and careful, resulting in a decrease in demand for luxury goods, and a shifted attention focusing on consumer goods, rather than thinking about buying homes, cars, trips, and others. The consumer will also be more aware of the way commodities are to be evaluated as well, and how to differentiate between them.
- Trends towards Price
Consumers tend toward achieving the highest satisfaction of a product or service at the lowest prices. However, despite the importance of the price in determining the demand and the required quantity, this effect remains limited. The reason is that the goods that the consumer is interested in will drive him to pay a greater price to obtain in the quality that makes him feel safe. It became even a greater belief that the more expensive the goods, the better they are, then therefore will spend more particularly in buying high-quality commodities.
- Trends toward Promotion
Consumers will be vigilant in getting to know the products and their features. They will be less attracted to the temptations of promotion such as free gifts, and they will think well before spending on a commodity they deem unnecessary. The purchasing behavior will depend on the necessity and importance of the product particularly to the consumer, especially if scarce financial resources are expected. Consumers will think more when they see commercials and will be more objective and cautious when responding.
- Trends toward Place of shopping
The COVID-19 crisis has created a consumer more aware of online shopping, more courageous, and confident in purchasing over the internet. So, he will always look for new places and products to shop at and from. Online shopping will become part of the consumer’s behavior even after the crisis recedes, and therefore store grocery shopping will no longer be as important as it used to be. As for the instore purchase, the consumer will be spending more on delivery shopping services, and he will prefer the near stores, and shopping option in the farthest stores will depend on the degree of risk compared to the benefit and the price.
Finally, many lessons the consumers had learned from the crisis, that affected their way of life and thinking. For instance, some consumers may have been a victim of companies’ deception, had purchased exaggeratedly some products, or spent a lot of money unnecessarily. On the other hand, others were wise and acted well during the crisis. However, the most important issue, that the crisis has created new consumers, with different needs and trends. The consumer will be more aware, with a variety of options, and this will make companies face new challenges, whether on the level of the product itself and its features or the way it is offered. As a result, companies should be more prepared for a new level of competition and new challenges.
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