Consumers are deeply concerned about the impact of COVID-19, both from a health and economic perspective. People are responding in a variety of ways and have differing attitudes, behaviors and purchasing habits. People across the globe are afraid as they strive to adapt to a new normal. Fear is running high as individuals contemplate what this crisis means for them, but more significantly, what it means for their families and friends, and society at large. In truth, we have no real comparison point in modern history. For the first time in a long time — no one knows what the future holds, not even the experts. Fortunately, history and social psychology offer a glimpse into how the pandemic could change consumers’ attitudes, behaviors and spending habits. Naturally, these changes will have a disproportionate impact on young people who are experiencing the pandemic unfold during their formative years says Jeremy Miner.

Consumers are responding to the crisis in a variety of ways. Some feel anxious and worried, fueling panic-buying of staples and hygiene products. At the other extreme, some consumers remain indifferent to the pandemic and are continuing their business as usual, despite recommendations from government and health professionals.

With every year that passes, consumer behavior is becoming more and more complex. The shutdown of physical stores has forced consumers to question their deep-seated shopping habits. People who had previously been reluctant to shop online are setting up online accounts and experiencing an entirely new customer journey. And once they get a taste for online convenience, they may never go back to their old ways. For a long time, e-commerce has been eating away the heels of offline retail. But the global lockdown has accelerated an existing trend that has been on the horizon for decades.

As a business owner, you may believe that some things have stayed the same and you don’t have to change much about how you promote your products and services. However, that’s just not the case. New trends in technology influence how people choose to shop, and businesses must stay up-to-date and adapt to the needs of consumers to survive.

Some aspects of consumer behavior can be easy to understand and straightforward. For example, it’s no secret that ice cream sells better during the summer months than the winter months. But, sometimes it’s difficult to understand why our customers do what they do.

It’s hard to ignore COVID-19’s impact on the world of buying and selling. Consumer shopping behaviors have dramatically changed in a short period, and what might have seemed like a necessity just a few months ago now feels like a luxury. Today’s buyers are busy, and don’t have the time or energy to weigh the merits of one item over another in a store or online. They grab or click a favorite, and move on. An estimated 90% of purchasing decisions are made instinctively. To get consumers to choose your brand, you need to build a positive impression that reaches them on a subconscious level. This means discovering the images and stories that build positive associations with your brand in their minds — the subconscious drivers.

The moment people look at your brand, what thoughts, images, experiences and feelings pop into their minds? if society becomes more community-focused, then so will our shopping habits. In other words, buyer motivation will shift from personal gain towards products, services and experiences that can be shared and enjoyed with others. The very act of consumption will no longer be synonymous with social status, but rather social harmony. In short, consumers will become more receptive to brands that demonstrate prosocial behavior. And so, all future brand activity will need to benefit society, and not only the individual.

Inevitably, there will be winners and losers. Some brands will need to figure out how to win back old customers with new mindsets. Whereas, other brands will use the opportunity to steal market share by appealing to consumers newly formed lifestyles. Regardless, marketers should have these two distinct archetypes in mind when updating their customer segments.

If there is one takeaway I’d like for you to get from this guide, it’s that consumer behavior is constantly changing. How your customers shop, find your business, get their information or browse the Internet today may be completely different than how they do in a few months.

I know that this is scary and might be discouraging to hear as a business owner. But, as long as you stay up-to-date with these changes in consumer behavior and plan and adapt accordingly, you will continue to find success in your business.