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Consumer behavior will never be the same again

May 20, 2020 | By Michelle Manafy, Editorial Director – DCN @michellemanafy

Covid-19 has affected everyone and everything. Health, work, relationships, education, dining, shipping, and shopping … every aspect of our lives has been impacted. And, according to Accenture research, this impact will leave an indelible mark on consumer behavior, particularly when it comes to how and with whom people spend their money.

In its report, “How COVID-19 will permanently change consumer behavior,” Accenture points out that the pandemic is reshaping industries in real time, “rapidly accelerating long-term underlying trends in the space of mere weeks.” And consumers are struggling to figure out how to shift many activities to digital alternatives.

Though some businesses are beginning to resume offline operations, many are holding off. And even when health officials and governments give the green light, many consumers will be hesitant to resume business as usual. But even more significantly, this experience will have accelerated and transformed many consumer behaviors.

Post-Covid consumers

Accenture has defined five new types of consumers, based upon the way in which they are responding to the crisis.

  1. The Worrier (21%)
  2. The Individualist (33%)
  3. The Rationalist (39%)
  4. The Activist (8%)
  5. The Indifferent (11%)

Because consumer response to the pandemic varies widely, Accenture says that “the days of one-size-fits-all marketing are over.” Thus, companies will need to understand how different segments of their consumer base are reacting and develop customized and personalized marketing strategies for each type of consumer.

Accelerating trends

According to Accenture, the virus has accelerated three long-term trends:

1. The ever-increasing focus on health

Brands should heed this change and make it a priority to support healthy lifestyles for consumers, shoppers and employees. Having a “health strategy” will be a strategic differentiator in the foreseeable future.

2. A rise in conscious consumption

Consumers are more mindful of what they’re buying. They are striving to limit food waste, shop more cost-consciously, and buy sustainable options. Brands will need to make this a key part of their offerings (for example, by exploring new business models and caring for their own employees).

3. Growing love for local

The desire to shop local is reflected in both the products consumer buy (for example, locally sourced, artisanal) and the way they shop (for example, supporting community stores). Companies will need to explore ways to connect locally. This might be through highlighting local provenance, customizing for local needs or engaging in locally relevant ways.


Undoubtedly, ecommerce adoption has been one of the clearest trends accelerated by the pandemic. Accenture found that one in five consumers who ordered their last groceries online did so for the first time—but for consumers aged 56 years and above, this was one in three. The trend toward digital commerce is expected to continue even once businesses reopen. Consumers report that the proportion of instances they shop online will increase from 32% to 37% after the outbreak, illustrating the clear need for a substantial increased investment in this channel.

Time well spent

Many people will continue to work from home and travel less for the foreseeable future. Thus, offerings that keep them connected and improve their home-based experiences will be highly valuable. As parents and educators look toward the possibility of remote education becoming part of the standard curriculum, technological and informational tools that facilitate remote learning will be highly appealing.

Source: App Annie (March 4, 2020)

Leisure pastimes have also significantly shifted. Accenture believes that the changes will cause long-lasting, or even permanent effects. According to the report, more than half (61%) plan to continue watching more news after the outbreak, while 55% will prioritize more time with the family. Entertainment, learning, and DIY have also seen a rise.  

Covid-19 is a health and economic crisis that has a sustainable impact on consumer attitudes, behaviors, and purchasing habits. Companies need to pay close attention to their consumers’ evolving expectations and changing behavior in order to effectively serve them, and market to them.

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