As everyone struggles to find a new “normal” in a world suddenly far from it, advertisers are watching closely to see how consumer behavior continues to evolve. There’s been an abundance of information about some of the small things we can all do to support local businesses (buy a gift card!) and appropriate behaviors for shopping for necessities (buy what you require!) during this uncertain time. Beyond that, though, what are the subtler effects that the coronavirus pandemic will have on consumer culture? Below, we run through some of the online behavioral changes we have seen, expect to see, and suspect might stick around long-term.
Search Behavior Will Change
The spread of COVID-19 and the necessarily lifestyle adaptations that many of us are and will continue to experience will alter our online search behavior. People are going online to search for things they typically don’t, as more and more people turn to online shopping instead of going to their local stores. Conversely, the things we were typically searching for may become less of a priority over the next few months.
In general, volumes are up with increased time being spent on websites and social media while people are staying home and turning to online resources for daily needs, news, and as a social outlet. Businesses will be impacted differently by this change in behaviors, but there is something every organization can do: utilize online channels to share updated, useful information for your customers. Keep your operating hours updated on Google, Facebook, and online directories. If the COVID-19 response is causing changes in business practices (to-go only, limited volumes, etc), let your audience know and provide a timetable for your next update.
Be sure to communicate the following:
- Changes in operating hours or communication channels (ie: facebook vs. website for real-time updates)
- Policy Updates
- Limits to or expansions of your services
- What your organization is doing to plan for the next weeks and months
- What customers can expect from your brand during extraordinary times like these.
Additionally, encourage your leadership to step out from behind your brand. If your organization has an important update to share, encourage your leadership to be the ones to provide it. If possible, use video to share the message and give your community a chance to make a connection with the decision makers at your organization.
Around the world, people’s lives will be different over the coming months. The role that brands and businesses play in their lives will also be different, at least for the time being, and that’s beyond anyone’s control. The best thing any brand can do is to stay up to date on how events are unfolding in your location and your industry, stay transparent and update your customers as your business makes changes and decisions, and listen to the feedback your community is providing.
That’s what Saltwater will be doing as well. You can watch this space, as well as our social channels, for updates. And feel free to get in touch on social media or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.