“What Helps People Helps Business”

That quote by the late and legendary Leo Burnett, founder of the global ad agency bearing his name, says it all for marketers planning their post-pandemic strategy.

Many people who turned to digital media to search and shop during the pandemic expect to continue doing so when it’s over. But what about consumer actions? A recent survey by global tech company Morning Consult looked at changes in people’s activities.

For obvious reasons, cooking ranked highest with 56% of respondents saying they’re cooking more, while 4% said they were cooking less. Another no-brainer and coming in second was spending time with people they live with at 49%, while 6% reported spending less time. Video chatting or calling friends and relatives came in third with a 49% increase. Some of the other findings should be of interest to marketers. Coming in fourth with a 45% increase was spending time on social media. At home workouts as well as gardening and yard work were up 29%.

An interesting discovery was that shopping online for non-necessities was up 26% edging out ordering groceries online or on an app (25%) and ordering food delivery or on an app (23%). Rounding out the increases were learning a new skill (20%), decorating the home and starting a new hobby (18%), taking classes online (15%), and ordering medication online (13%).

What Do These Mean?

While it’s too soon to tell which of these behavioral changes will continue and, if so, by how much, most observers agree that many consumers will continue their newfound or increased reliance on digital technology. Online grocery and meal delivery services rank up there.

Knowledge of this anticipated change is but the first step. Knowing the affected demographic that is changing is next.

What Morning Consult discovered was that women had the biggest change in the increases. Higher income women showed the biggest increase in cooking. For social media, it was higher income women and urban communities.

When it came to at-home workouts, yardwork or gardening, and ordering food online or via an app, people with higher income, higher education levels and urban communities led the increases. Higher income and higher education accounted for a lot of the increases in online shopping for non-necessities and ordering groceries online or via apps. Higher education levels led to learning new skills while higher income did the same for learning new hobbies.

It was no surprise that the study also showed Gen Z leading the way with a 44% increase in online activity. They were followed by millennials at 35% and Gen X at 32%. What was encouraging is that boomers recorded a 24% increase.

What to Do

Brands that market in those areas identified as growing need to formulate a strategy to reach out to current and potential customers in ways that will encourage them to continue an interest after the pandemic is over. A strategy that would foster stronger and/or new associations, coupled with emotional ties, will help secure a bigger market share.

Where relevant, brands will also have to consider a strategy that not only fosters more engagement with higher income consumers, but also recognizes and respects those with lesser incomes. Unless the brand only targets high income consumers with luxury products, it would be dangerous and inadvisable to forget others with smaller incomes.

History has shown that brands that recognize how reality during a crisis can look different depending upon one’s income level and which leverage their communications and marketing to provide solutions will achieve much greater success in the long term.

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