Part 2: From Surviving to Thriving: Understanding Your Customer’s New Buying Habits

If you closed your business during the COVID-19 quarantine or stayed open but are seeing shifts in how your customers shop, this article is written with you in mind. Consumers’ fears are at an all-time high and economic confidence is at an all-time low. So how do you navigate your marketing message for this type of landscape?

No matter what the economic landscape looks like, it all comes down to knowing and understanding your customers. What are their fears? What information do they need to feel trust with your brand and safe about their purchase? Have they changed the way they search for information? Have they gained access or comfort with new digital platforms?

These are just some of the questions your marketing team needs to answer in order to truly meet your customers where they are. Simple pleasures we once took for granted, like walking into the bank to make a deposit, sitting down for a nice meal at a restaurant, or coming together in the office for a team meeting, have now been altered. We have to learn how to expand our capabilities and technology so we can adapt to these changes, on both the company and consumer side.

Your customers’ process for buying goods and services has changed overnight, and they have experienced and learned, through technology, new ways to navigate and resolve their daily needs.

Technology is not the only shift we are seeing with today’s consumers. Because of the uncertainty of our economic stability, and let’s face it, individual job security, many consumers have to re-evaluate what is really important and necessary in their daily life. All of a sudden, that daily $7 latte has been replaced with new home streaming services. That $50 monthly dinner has been replaced with more home goods. Changes in spending aren’t the only issue. Consumers that have become more comfortable with the convenience of online shopping will certainly force businesses to change the way they offer their products and services. Online ordering of groceries and home delivery from restaurants has been forced upon us, and many consumers will keep with this convenience even after the economy opens up. The list of changes in the consumer behavior can go on and on. Consumer buying habits will not bounce back immediately, and some will be forever altered.

So how do you uncover what changes have taken place with your ideal customer’s buying habits? No matter the economic conditions, we still need goods and services for daily living. The key is matching up your offerings in a way that is going to resonate with your customers when they are aware that they have a need or desire for what you offer. If you miss connecting with them at this stage, then you miss your chance to serve them all together.

Through customer surveys, focus groups, and individual interviews, your company can gain insights into your customers’ buyer’s journey and develop new strategies, set up new technologies, and improve customer touchpoints.

The key is to learn what has changed with your customers, so you don’t miss them at their awareness stage.

  • Did they shift from preferring brick and mortar to online shopping?
  • Did they cut their budget and are now more price-sensitive?
  • Did they shift their priorities, and your product or service is no longer on their shortlist?
  • Did a new market emerge that you are unaware of?

Once you attain the insights from your customers on how their buying habits have changed, you then need to analyze how your business model is meeting their new needs—whether it’s developing an e-commerce website, offering special pricing to loyal customers, changing the messaging for your products and services to be more benefit-focused, or adding new demos and educational resources about your company for new markets.

Your customers have changed, and the world around them continues to evolve. If your business model and marketing do not change with them, you will eventually become a “Blockbuster Video Store,” being surpassed by the companies that recognize the shifting market and adjust to the needs of their customers.

Utilizing a marketing consultancy firm to gain unbiased and honest insights from your customers is always recommended. They can strategize with your team on your current marketing and messaging approach and provide a solid foundation.

Ready to put this into context for your business? We hope to see you again in our next lesson on practical ways to move your company from surviving to thriving in this new market!