What will consumers do in the New Normal? An AI-backed peek into the future.

AI, New Normal, Consumer Behavior

As the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be entering a second phase, businesses worldwide are trying to determine their next steps. The pandemic has turned much of the retail world (and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs) upside-down. Uncertainty is a daily occurrence. And the New Normal – whenever it comes and whatever it is – is yet on the horizon.

In this climate, it’s vital for businesses to stay informed, gather reliable insights, and make sensible decisions. But with an estimated 200,000+ of new pieces of COVID-related content being created every day, how is this possible?

We’ve leveraged our own AI tool NAVIK Signals to sort through all the opinions, predictions, and prognostications on COVID and the New Normal. This delivered seven surprising insights into what consumers want now and what the post-COVID future will look like. These were based on information from:

  • 150+ published articles
  • 50+ white papers
  • 20+ webinars

We presented a detailed overview in our webinar, 7 Surprising Predictions about Consumer Behavior in the New Normal. Below is a summary of our findings.

7 Insights into Consumer Behavior

COVID has shaped our current experience via two seemingly opposing forces: an acceleration of digitalization (i.e. the quick adoption of videoconferencing, remote work, various apps and online services) and the simplification of our personal lives (i.e. paring down to essentials, prioritizing family time, DIY, etc.). The following predictions are all a consequence of the push-pull of these two opposing forces.

  1. Physical and digital worlds are combining: Even people who were not enthusiastic adopters of internet-based shopping, socializing, etc. are slowly being pushed online. There’s an excitement and novelty to these virtual experiences, but they’re serving several important functions: bridging the gap between brands and consumers, allowing people to work remotely, keeping friends and family connected. Expect to see this trend continue post-COVID; brands would do well to look at how they can blend their physical and digital experience, e.g. by interacting more with customers online.
  2. Home is where your life is: People’s dwellings have also become their workspaces, gyms, restaurants, and entertainment solutions. We’re already adapting to this change with things like delivery-only restaurants, virtual shared meals, virtual clubbing, and at-home fitness services; soon we’ll start adopting it. Brands that emphasizing the digital social connectedness, safety, variety, convenience, and emotional stability of home-based services and experiences are catering to this trend.
  3. Wellness is in the spotlight: There’s nothing like the threat of severe illness to make people re-evaluate their health. Health is valued instead of being taken for granted, and consumers are starting to demand healthy, fresh foods. There’s also a lot of interest in sustainable, environmentally friendly ingredients and practices. However, due to tighter budgets, consumers will also be looking for these things at value-oriented price points.
  4. A new emphasis on aligning values: As we mentioned earlier, the pandemic has made many people adopt a ‘back to basics’ philosophy centering around simplicity, family, and self-reflection. But, because of the prevailing uncertainty, this is also a very emotionally charged time. Companies have to ensure that they live up to the values they espouse. Now and after the pandemic, they need to be sensitive about their messaging, emphasizing relationships and transparency. Consumers will remember brands’ good acts during the pandemic long after it ends.
  5. Delivery gets a new look: Social distancing, local regulations, and consumers’ own anxiety around exposure to COVID have combined to make delivery and take out meals the new ‘eating out’ normal. Packaged versions of restaurant products, curbside pickup, and contactless delivery have all evolved to meet this need. Post-COVID, we’ll likely see these types of services recede somewhat, but they’ll still be more popular than they were before the pandemic.
  6. Emphasize local: There’s been a strong community movement recently – people are looking to support local businesses, small producers, regional goods, and foods, etc. This started before the pandemic, but the emphasis on environmental and social responsibility mentioned early will carry on after the crisis wanes.
  7. The next evolution of shopping habits: As things get back to normal, we’ll see two distinct groups of consumers: one that focused on minimizing spending in favor of saving, one that is willing to indulge (albeit less often). The second group will have a “lesser but better” mindset. Brands will have to rethink pack types/sizes and messaging to emphasize value in a cash-strapped economy.

Want More Details? 

As you can see, many of the behaviors born of COVID-19 will outlast it. Part of this will be habit: people are adjusting to a changed lifestyle and have been for several months. That’s enough time for new habits to form.

The webinar contains more details, including an in-depth look at each prediction and recommendations for moving forward. Check it out! You can view 7 Surprising Predictions about Consumer Behavior in the New Normal for free here.


Authored by: Dr. Anil Kaul, CEO and Co-founder, Absolutdata and Ina Nanda, Director of Market Research, Absolutdata



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