Beyond COVID: 5 consumer segments that will shape demand beyond the pandemic

by | Jul 14, 2020 | Covid-19, Public Relations

There’s a lot of uncertainty out there right now, as perplexed retail marketers scrambling to figure out today’s consumers will attest. But new research from tax, transaction and advisory services firm EY helps shed some light on life beyond the clutch of COVID. The firm’s new study identifies five new consumer segments that will emerge in the post-COVID world.

According to the firm’s latest EY Future Consumer Index, each segment reflects the different ways in which consumers expect to be living their lives beyond COVID-19, how they will make choices, and what really matters to them.

Consumers crave normality—but have new priorities

The survey finds that craving stability is a rising trend, with 40 percent of consumers keen to “get to normal”—doubling over last month’s survey results (20 percent). However, half (50 percent) of consumers still expect their lives to change significantly in the long-term, while 53 percent say the pandemic experience has led to a re-evaluation of their values and how they look at life.

The five new consumer segments that have emerged as a result of these changing sentiments are:

Affordability first

These consumers want to live within their means and represent 30 percent of the cohort. They are the most pessimistic segment in their perception of how long it will take their country to recover and for financial stability to return. More than half of them identify price as increasing in importance.

Health first

These consumers (26 percent) prefer brands and products they trust to be safe and minimize unnecessary risks. Fifty-seven percent say they now pay more attention to how healthy the products they buy are for them.

Planet first

Most likely to change the products they buy, these consumers (17 percent) would pay a premium for high-quality, ethically sourced and sustainable goods. Fifty-nine percent intend to shop more locally in the long term.

Society first

Consumers in this segment (16 percent) believe that everyone should work together for the greater good, with 73 percent of them prepared to change their behavior in order to benefit society. They prefer to buy from organizations that are honest and transparent about what they do.

Experience first

Intent on living for the moment, these consumers (11 percent) are the least anxious about their health and finances. Two-thirds of them feel comfortable returning to a mall just days or weeks after the pandemic has stabilized in their country.

“Organizations will need to work out how to serve a more value-conscious, health-conscious consumer, but also a consumer who demands purposeful brands that reflect their environmental and social values,” said Kristina Rogers, EY Global Consumer Leader, in a news release. “Business leaders should focus on reshaping their portfolios so that they are relevant to the future consumer, providing digital customer journeys that reflect the way consumers will behave and creating the transparency needed to secure consumer trust.”

Health and affordability will dominate beyond COVID-19

Consumers expect to make deep and lasting changes, with 62 percent indicating that they will be more aware and cautious about their physical health and 58 percent increasingly focusing on value for money in the future. These are not new drivers of behavior and preference, but the Index suggests that consumers will become much more committed to their values.

“Many businesses believe they already have the right portfolio, marketing and supply chain,” said Andrew Cosgrove, EY Global Consumer Knowledge Leader, in the release. “However, few are resilient enough to deliver against these heightened consumer expectations. Efficiency is important but must be balanced against the need to keep developing the capabilities that will deliver growth. Businesses now have the opportunity to not just protect what worked in the past, but to actively shape a successful future.”

Read the full report here.

The latest edition of the EY Future Consumer Index, a monthly survey, tracks the sentiment and behavior of 14,074 people across 18 countries.

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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