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How brands can harness consumer behaviour change

How consumers think, move, browse, purchase and interact have all changed quite dramatically. Reading these changing patterns has never been more difficult or essential, especially for global brands operating across different markets at different stages on the road to recovery.

Around the world, people have learned to live with the changes brought about by COVID-19. As different countries respond to the situation, consumers have had to start thinking more locally as rules begin to differ region by region, and sometimes town by town.

Understanding the different stages of crisis, stability, and recovery and where a particular market sits along that spectrum is key for any brand strategy as we begin 2021. By examining how the ever-changing circumstances have impacted daily routines and newly established behaviours, brands can harness these changes to meet their consumers' altered and altering needs.

Think (g)local

While previous strategies may have focused on global or national audiences, brands need to focus their efforts on localisation at the moment. At this stage, how people react is primarily driven by how the pandemic is impacting their region. While case numbers are generally viewed at a national level, governments and local authorities often implement regionalised restrictions. There is a noticeable lack of uniformity in many countries — whilst one municipality may be experiencing relative freedom in their movement, the neighbouring district could be more stringently regulated.

This patchwork approach looks set to continue throughout Q1 2021.

Brands need to envisage their global audience as a puzzle made up of local pieces, and adapt to a glocal approach whilst the consumer is bound by these restrictions.

Address the consumer mood

Amidst all of this upheaval, people are experiencing Covid-fatigue and bad-news exhaustion. The ongoing uncertainty about the pandemic is compounded by economic and employment anxiety. As a result of all of this upheaval, many consumers are craving routines that help them find a semblance of normality.

The first movers will be those able to capture the groups most likely to return to dining at a restaurant, sitting at a bar with friends, or going to the gym. Campaigns that focus on storytelling that centres around narratives of normality, stability, connections, and the emotional comfort of ‘life going back to normal’ will perform well in the early part of 2021.

Embrace e-commerce

The shift online from 2020 is only going to increase — that particular genie will never go back in the bottle. Brands need to strengthen the cohesion between their online and offline services.

The desire to cuddle up on the sofa and hibernate with a mug of hot chocolate (or something stronger!) will be more deeply ingrained in early 2021 than ever before. Extensively swiping through socials is more than just a trend — it’s an absolute certainty for more demographics than ever before.

That’s where you want your brand to be. That’s when marketers should be running an Instagram Stories campaign. With the swipe up feature, you can direct your audience to your product or service page. Consider also asking influencers to do a Story takeover on your brand’s Instagram page: this will not only increase brand awareness but also drive traffic to your brand page.