Companies have changed the way they do business since the pandemic. In a new report, Google forecasts which of those changes are here to stay.
Citing search data to back up some of its predictions, Google says these pivots will become permanent:
- Using real-time tracking insights to rapidly respond to consumers.
- Holding virtual events.
- Working from home.
- Offering more convenient ways for consumers to buy online.
Google acknowledges all sectors had to rethink their approach to marketing during the pandemic. Business is likely to resume a degree of normalcy when the pandemic is over, but these consumer-friendly shifts won’t be forgotten.
Rapid Response to Changes in Consumer Habits
Consumer habits are evolving at a frantic pace throughout the pandemic, which is forcing businesses to get better at tracking real-time insights and responding to the data.
Habit Change: Searching Before Shopping
Consumers are increasingly turning to Google Search to find which businesses have items in stock before venturing out to a store.
Google points to data from the early months of the pandemic. Searches for “who has” and “in stock” were up over 8,000% year over year in the U.S.
Habit Change: Fewer Trips For Groceries
Consumers are limiting their trips out for food, as Google cites a growing search interest in queries like “can you freeze” in the U.K. and “home delivery” in France.
Habit Change: Saving More, Spending Less
As the pandemic continues to take a toll on personal income, many consumers are saving more and spending less on nonessential items.
Google cites data from a Kantar study showing 71% of people in G-7 countries say their personal income had or would be impacted by the pandemic.
The impact to personal income is highest in Italy (85%), the U.S. (75%), and Canada (75%).
A BCG report finds, of the people who expect to change their spending habits, 29% say they’ll save more and 27% say they’ll spend less on nonessential items.
Habit Change: Consumers Will Find Alternatives
Consumer behavior throughout the pandemic shows they’re keen to find alternatives when something they depend on gets taken away.
When schools were shut down, Google says searches for “online learning” went up 400% year over year.
When gyms were forced to close, searches for fitness apps jumped 200% year over year.
When the world became too isolating, people sought to cultivate connections online. Searches that included the phrase “with friends online” went up 300% year over year.
Searches for “watch party” (for example, “youtube watch party” or “private watch party”) grew 400% year over year.
Takeaway From Google
“To better respond to rapid shifts in consumer behavior, brands created real-time insights tracking, elevated insights within their organizations, and established new processes to quickly act on their discoveries. This new reality will ensure brands are positioned to lead with insights.”
Virtual Events Will Continue
The pandemic forced all in-person events to cancel, which lead to marketing teams pivoting toward virtual events.
Live events will eventually return, but Google predicts they’ll look different.
Now that consumers have experienced the convenience of attending events from their living room, live events will need to deliver an outstanding experience to draw them back in.
Google expects virtual events to continue past the pandemic. Though the company advises a digital setting is not the best solution for all events.
Working From Home Will Continue
Google predicts the changes businesses were forced to make to the traditional in-office work model are here to say.
Search and shopping data suggests the pivot to working from home started before the pandemic. People have been exhibiting a growing desire to spend more time doing what brings them joy and less time doing things like commuting.
For businesses, Google says this means continuing to find ways to meet people’s basic needs:
“The in-office work model has likely changed forever, shifting consumer habits and workplace cultures. For businesses, this means finding ways to meet people’s most basic needs and taking steps to foster a more resilient workforce.”
Online Shopping is Now The Norm
Ecommerce took off during the pandemic, with some people turning to online shopping for the first time in their lives out of necessity.
Googles notes there was an increase in shopping activity for items people wouldn’t ordinarily buy online.
“There was a meaningful increase in the number of people willing to buy groceries, clothing, and even cars online. In the first six months of 2020, for example, nearly 10% of cars were sold online, compared with just 1% of cars sold online during all of 2018.”
Brick-and-mortar businesses had to pivot toward offering options such as local delivery and curbside pickup.
These new and more convenient shopping habits likely won’t go away after the pandemic.
Source: Think with Google