Ready or Not, Brands Must Adjust to a Hybrid World

Flexibility: see how Americans are thriving and why they expect more of it post-pandemic.

The author(s)

  • Emmanuel Probst Global Lead, Brand Thought-Leadership
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There have been many drawbacks and sad consequences as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but one up-side has been the (albeit necessitated) adoption of going online to shop, work, dine, learn, exercise, and be entertained.

Will consumers rush back to their old habits after being cooped up for over a year? The picture is a study of contrasts, but one thing is clear—workplaces and lifestyles now follow a hybrid model, whether companies like this new system or not. Simply put, moving forward, people will complete tasks through a combination of online, offline, at-home and out-of-home activities.

Download our detailed paper for more insights about some of the areas where marketers should pay especially close attention.


The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the way we shop, work, dine, learn, exercise, and entertain. For over a year, many Americans have been doing many of these activities in the comfort—and constraint —of our homes.

Will consumers rush back to their old habits after being cooped up for over a year? The picture is a study of contrasts, but one thing is clear—workplaces and lifestyles now follow a hybrid model, whether companies like this new system or not. Don’t like it? Here’s how to be successful anyway.

Summer is (kind of) back!

A recent Ipsos survey found 85% of respondents that people are keen on going back to grocery stores (85%), as well as restaurants and bars (73%). Conversely though, roughly 25% of people plan on visiting movie theaters, shopping malls, and restaurants less than they did before, if at all.

The same goes for our work habits. Those working from home want to go back to the office, but not to the extent they used to: a recent Ipsos survey shows that 59% of people working from home miss their co-workers. One in three find their homes difficult locations to be productive and 40% are burned out by work when working from home.

With that said, 62% of participants want to return to the office occasionally and 72% want flexibility in the amount of time they go to the office. Most importantly, 42% would look for another job if their employer required them to return to the office full time.

Moving forward, people will complete a task through a combination of online, offline, at-home and out-ofhome activities. Here are some of the areas where marketers should pay especially close attention.

Patients will increasingly rely on telehealth

Post-COVID, we will likely continue to fulfill online the tasks that are the most functional and least meaningful. For example, we will increasingly rely on telehealth for medical needs that don’t require an in-person visit. According to Ipsos data, 38% of physicians say they would recommend telemedicine for “regular check-up appointments,” while 56% of Americans have used telemedicine in the past year and plan on doing so again. 60% of those who used telemedicine say they would make a telemedicine appointment in the future.

Telehealth also benefits healthcare practitioners: 88% anticipate offering telemedicine after the pandemic. Two-thirds of practitioners point to the flexibility and convenience of telehealth: 58% agree that telemedicine increases flexibility for patients and 42% indicate telehealth saves them time in their practice.

Along with these findings, 41% of patients say telemedicine makes it easier to schedule appointments, and 37% say telemedicine makes it easier to get a prescription.

In contrast, concertgoers are anxious to go back to music festivals

For all the Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality technology, there is no substitute for a live music experience. A recent study from event promoter Live Nation shows that 91% of concertgoers will return to live music once restrictions are lifted. Further, 85% of live stream viewers say livestreams or videos can’t replace the live music experience, according to Ipsos research. Note that concertgoers put their money where their mouth is: the Electronic Daisy Carnival sold out more than 400,000 tickets for its Las Vegas festival scheduled in May, even though the lineup has not even been announced.

Retail will become an omnichannel experience

In retail, the omnichannel experience will become predominant, with consumers purchasing online, offline or using “buy online, pick up in store” (BOPIS). Last year, U.S. click-and-collect sales grew by 106.9%. This year, they will grow by another 15.2%, to reach $83.47 billion, representing 9.9% of all retail ecommerce sales, according to eMarketer.

In 2020, seven multichannel retailers captured 64% of click-and-collect in the U.S. Not all seven are major ecommerce players (Home Depot, Lowe’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom), but they have been the most successful at leveraging consumers’ spike in interest in click and collect. To succeed after the pandemic, consumer brands must deliver a seamless experience across channels, no matter when, where and how their customers decide to engage with them. That is, brands must implement communication tools such as chatbots that enable fast and personal interactions with their customers, which, in turn, will foster strong, long-lasting relationships.

Furthermore, brands must leverage the first-party data they collect from their customers to provide them with a curated, personalized selection of products and services. Burrow, a Direct-To-Consumer furniture brand, leverages its customers’ feedback and past behavior to show its website visitors the few products they are most likely to buy among Burrow’s 23,000 possible furniture combinations.

As such, brands’ health tracking programs must draw on both behavioral and attitudinal data, drawn from the widest possible range of online and offline sources.

Next Steps

  • Consumer brands must deliver a seamless experience across channels.
  • Brands must figure out when, where and how their customers decide to engage with them.
  • Brands should provide consumers with a curated, personalized selection of products and services.

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The author(s)

  • Emmanuel Probst Global Lead, Brand Thought-Leadership

Consumer & Shopper