Harnessing post-pandemic customer trends to fuel business growth

post pandemic customer behaviour business framework

Customer’s changed behaviour presents businesses with opportunities that can be harnessed through the COUNTER COVID Business Framework. Image: Blake Wisz/Unsplash

Ofer Mintz
Associate Professor, Marketing, University of Technology, Sydney
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  • Financial and inflationary strains are forcing customers to prioritise comfort, value, and social connections when purchasing.
  • Customer’s changed behaviour presents businesses with opportunities that can be harnessed through the COUNTER COVID Business Framework.

The present post-pandemic (or less pandemic-dominated) economy offers an unprecedented opportunity for firms worldwide to grow and prosper, despite persistent health and financial challenges.

For my new book The Post-Pandemic Business Playbook, I analysed hundreds of best business practices from six continents, interviewed dozens of customers and managers in 20 different countries, and examined thousands of academic empirical studies. My research revealed the tremendous growth opportunities available to firms to acquire new customers and reset relations with existing customers now that long-standing customer trends have changed.

Consider the following customer behaviour changes:

Businesses must take note of the customer behaviour changes caused by COVID-19.
Businesses must take note of the customer behaviour changes caused by COVID-19. Image: Ofer Mintz

Three principles for a COUNTER COVID Framework

Firms should capitalise on this unprecedented growth opportunity by adapting to new customer behaviours. My research-based recommendation is to employ a three-principled customer-centric COUNTER COVID Framework.

The COUNTER COVID framework for businesses.
The COUNTER COVID framework for businesses. Image: Ofer Mintz

1) Create emotional connections with customers

Throughout the pandemic, many customers and firms engaged in transactional-based relationships that no longer provided perceived two-way connections. However, as customers re-emerge from lockdown-era health constraints, they are increasingly seeking to re-establish societal connections and expand on their pandemic-induced desires to be comforted. In short, cultivate long-term relationships with your customers by authentically connecting and kindling their excitement to join your community.

Camilla, an Australian and US-based luxury fashion retailer, cultivated passionate customer devotion by consistently organizing social group interactions between customers and employees and hosting virtual event parties with event-paired wines. Kinu Coaching, a Chilean online wellness firm, grew exponentially across Latin America once its focus shifted to building customer trust through marketing strategies that shared the principal wellness coach's personal story and expertise. HAPPYBOND, a US-based pet supplement firm, created instant connections with dog owners by emphasising its founder's journey “to help her dog skateboard again”, and developing an active customer-based dog wellness community.

In short, draw your customers by creating authentic connections with them, and kindle their excitement to join your community.

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2) Demonstrate your product value

Customers have demonstrated a willingness to purchase a range of products over the last two years - even when customers have suffered devastating financial losses and face increasing inflationary costs - as long as these provide direct value. My research recommends that firms demonstrate product value by providing customer testimonials, case studies, referrals, and authenticating typical returns on investments - not just focus on price-related value.

Cover-More Group, a global travel insurance leader with brands such as Cover-More, Travelex, Halo, Blue, and Universal Assistance, provides two successful non-price-based methods other firms can emulate. They create emotional value through advertisements that highlight how travel insurance enables “moments that matter” and cater to customers’ value-based uncertainty by allowing customers to purchase a “cancel for any reason” option. Head for the Cure, a US-based non-profit dedicated to increasing brain cancer awareness, demonstrated to its donor-customers how donations provided specific value to its well-known, local beneficiary organizations.

Hence, ongoing financial concerns are forcing many customers to consider the value of your products; be sure to clearly communicate the financial and/or psychological value that your products provide.

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3) Extend your digital footprint

The accelerated pace at which customers adopt digital systems means that firms, too, need to accelerate their digital transformation efforts. Fortunately, digital platforms and marketing tools have become so advanced that firms can easily target the right customer, with the right message, on the right medium, at the right time.

Ikea ran an effective targeted B2B digital marketing campaign across multiple platforms in the UK, Spain, and Japan to help re-establish itself as the retailer of choice for small business furniture. Similarly, Bata, a footwear retailer, proactively reached its Indian customers by introducing a WhatsApp-based text, phone, and video service that matched the preferred digital service of its customers. After its initial success in India, Bata extended these services to 71 other countries. The Shanghai Guanfu Museum hosted a live stream that offered customers direct engagements with expert curators and a “see-now-buy-option,” which led to a 460% increase in shop sales in just one session.

Thus, your customers are increasingly using digital technologies for various tasks in their shopping journey (even if they don’t purchase this way); be proactive by approaching them on those platforms.

In short, businesses should adapt to post-pandemic customer behaviour to seize the unprecedented opportunity to acquire new customers and reset relations with current customers. My research-based recommendation is to employ the customer-centric COUNTER COVID Framework by creating emotional connections, demonstrating product value, and extending their digital footprint (C[ount]E[r] CO + V[i] + D).

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