As consumers’ values are changing, their needs are also changing. Brands must show that they are listening and understanding as their audiences make those needs known. This is another area where dropping the old standards of corporate speak and strict standard operating procedures can make brands more human and relatable, thereby improving the overall consumer experience. The key to doing this successfully is to engage in social listening and audience research.
Numerous brands have successfully adapted their consumer experience to allow for contactless transactions amid the pandemic. Many of these accommodations have been set up as temporary measures that will be removed once lockdowns have been lifted. However, consumers have experienced a trauma that is expected to outlast the pandemic. According to research, even in areas where restrictions had been lifted, 28% of people surveyed were still doing significantly less in-store shopping than they were earlier in 2020. Additionally, 41% of respondents felt that life won’t return to normal for at least another year. This caution is highlighted by the new phrase “Netflix and panic,” a phenomenon where people feel anxiety when watching shows that depict people in close quarters or not wearing masks. It would be safe to deduce that this trauma response to mere images of people seemingly at risk would translate to consumers continuing to stay home, limit contact with others and prioritize their health and safety. The most successful brands in the post-COVID world will be those who listened to these trends, looked at the data and made long-term adjustments to their customer experience to better serve the new, cautious consumer.