Year after year, we track the consumer from different angles: demographics, connectivity, tastes, desires, aspirations. But what happens to these trends when what we know abruptly changes?
Up until 2019 we saw a demographic slowdown, which led us to understand the consumer with more focused interests in personal development, more singleperson households, couples who do not want to have children, new parents with concerns about having superior products for their children, pet owners who demand both pet products and pet-friendly services (from 2000 to 2018, the pet food market grew from US$60 million to US$300 million, according to Fenalco), a growing market concerned about its mental and physical health, etc.., and with all this information we focus on developing strategies to capture these increasingly specific consumers.
Once the pandemic appeared, surprising everyone and showing that we were not prepared for what we had to face, there was an urgent need to re-understand the consumer from a different point of view: starting from their uncertainty and the assimilation of what was called the “New Normal” around the pandemic.
Over and above the change in media consumption in Colombia, which showed an accelerated evolution towards the consumption of digital content, the expansion of e-commerce, which has led the Colombian Chamber of E-commerce to increase by more than 64% during the months of April and July, reflecting an impact on market purchases by this means due to confinement, economic concerns where we reached -41.3% unemployment
in the month of April, and which despite improving at the close of the year, remained in double digits at -10.4%, leading the consumer to reorganise their priorities, consequently we saw several sectors considerably impacted.
The monitoring conducted by Ipsos during the pandemic, and the lessons learned from the information collected, present interesting challenges for the new consumer vision:
The virtual education approach
Although it is a fact that it is a challenge for everyone to adapt to this reality, the opening up of this educational format for all markets has changed the visual of a lower quality education to become a viable alternative, especially for those who wish to continue their higher or complementary studies. New training platforms such as Coursera, edX or Platzi, or even the giants such as Google, Facebook or Microsoft, are offering quality programmes at low cost that compete with the big universities y which, coupled with benefits such as flexible timetables, reduced need to move around the city and time optimisation, opens up business opportunities for various sectors such as digital media, furnishings, electronic and audio devices, etc.
Preceding the desire for a return to normal life, is the need to protect oneself and one’s loved ones, posing challenges for brands. The return to restaurants, bars, etc., for example, challenged establishments to generate security and trust in the premises, even beyond the quality of products and services; clothing shops opened up to connect with their consumers from digital platforms, offering extra services such as “personal shopper”, sending fitting rooms to homes for those shoppers who doubted their satisfaction with the garments, applying flexible and quick change policies for virtual purchases, adopting selfcare protocols for visits to shops, etc., not to mention constant promotions, no doubt seeking to minimise barriers to consumer loyalty. The same happened with banks, beauty centres, veterinaries, shopping centres, gyms and all those businesses that include in their DNA the experience as a differential for the consumer. Understanding that consumers have integrated an additional component to the new experiences: safety, or better Biosafety, constituted today as a new habit that seems to remain as a driver in the list of customer requests.
New product expectations
Regardless the sector or the specific detail of the target audience for our products, consumers seem to be aligned around seeking additional benefits. In some cases they are functional, complementing their consumption/use without generating health contraindications, reinforcing the boom of the last decade for organic products, that of OTC medicines that not only soothe symptoms but also help to improve health, also in personal and household hygiene products that in addition to cleaning also protect, for example; In other cases, the more emotional demand seems to be highest in established brands, those that generate a connection with which consumers can identify, such as helping the environment, being eco-sustainable, or in the case of cruelty-free cosmetics, regarding animal cruelty.
Changes in trends affect consumption in different ways: opening up markets, generating business opportunities, or simply showing us what is no longer relevant. The challenge today is for established brands facing a consumer who demands that they evolve at their own pace but be consistent. Not every brand can talk about everything, not every brand can do everything. Let’s remember that the value of the brand is built from the consumer’s perception, what they feel, experience and transmit about it, so it is not enough to be different and relevant, a brand must be credible and closer, generating identification.
For consumers, their preferred brands are those that identify with their lifestyle, with their ideals and that allow them to be consistent with their actions, that give them a benefit beyond the functional, brands that transcend the commercial exercise. - Ipsos Learnings