Pandemic induced change in shopping behaviour that is here to stay

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What are the factors we consider when we usually shop? We like to think why we need that product; we like to see how it fits in our life as it is, we generally like to know for how long the product will last, or how long we want it to last, we consider different prices to see what fits our budget best, and mostly we have a scene in mind where we envision ourselves using the product. Only after most of these markers are ticked, do we go ahead and buy something. 

Such a shopping behaviour does not only need the consumer to have a detailed knowledge of their needs but themselves, but also a rough idea of the future and how it is going to be for them. Nobody would buy a car if they were not convinced that they will be using it for a good decade before things might change for the better or the worse. Fact is, there involves a lot of planning and envisioning in buying products. Even at the grocery store you pick vegetables or meat keeping in mind what you plan upon cooking for the next couple of days. 

This behavioural pattern was severely disrupted during the pandemic. People’s knowledge of their needs was affected by a complete change in lifestyle and conditions of unforeseeable future. Not only did they suddenly feel the need for things that they though unnecessary herewith, especially for efficient remote work, online education for kids and limited choices for entertainment and activity at home, a lot of stuff they needed earlier was lying idle around the house.

Fact is, that the pandemic has made all of us more conscious and cautious buyers. The crisis has also turned us more community-focussed and less individualistic. It also made us see things that were naked truth in front of us that we never paid attention to, and most people have re-evaluated their life to some degree, given up on some practices, and adopted some new ones. The pandemic also made people rethink their shopping style and preferences. Those who thought they couldn’t survive without that weekly dose of shopping or that daily dose of outside food, or that run down to the coffee shop, the pandemic forced them to realise that they could. 

Some key behavioural changes have taken place during the pandemic that are here to stay. We have seen an increased digital adoption even for everyday needs. People can access products beyond their immediate markets and choose the best. Change in mobility patterns has also affected consumer behaviour. People’s commute is less frequent and so has travel taken a backwards turn. The pandemic has increased people’s awareness of health and as more people turn to healthier lifestyles, we see a lot of businesses changing their products and services. One of the less discussed and very relevantchange has been one in interpersonal behaviour. The pandemic was an alienating and lonely experience for many and for others it forced them to revaluate their relationships. Not only have separation between partners intensifies, petadoption has scaled during and post-pandemic. These have also affected the consumer behaviour significantly.

Gen-Z or the generation of people born between mid-90s and early 2010, comprise the largest generation of people to inhabit the earth yet. This is also the population whose behaviour defines the consumer trend for the time. Being in the building and settling years of their life, these were also most significantly affected by the pandemic as compared to those younger or older than them. Gen-Z has not only defined our responses to COVID but also in the restructuring of the world post COVID. It is imperative to understand their behaviour to fully understand what kind of shifts we are witnessing in consumer behaviour.

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