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Covid consciousness

Updated: Aug 28, 2020

There’s been an increase in conscious consumption due to the pandemic – focusing on personal health, community, wellbeing and sustainability. However, will we see a permanent change to consumer behaviour post-COVID?

Photo by wee lee on Unsplash

There’s been a range of recent studies trying to understand changes in consumer behaviour during coronavirus and what that might mean for the future. Accenture’s latest survey has found that while purchases are currently centred on basic needs, there’s been an increase in conscious consumption.  

Supporting local communities

The crisis has made us feel closer to our local communities. There’s been an 80% increase in consumers feeling more or as connected to their communities. And 88% expected these connections to be sustained post COVID-19. People are helping their neighbour with groceries, showing gratitude for essential workers and willing to support those in the community. This could mean that post COVID-19 there’s an increased interest in local products – locally sourced products and local community shops.

Investing in our health

In a time of uncertainty, people are focusing heavily on their most basic needs, such as health. And health isn’t just about their physical health, but also wellbeing more generally.

Wellbeing practices such as psychic readings, meditations, tarot cards and astrology are all moving to online formats to meet the increased demand during the crisis. This interest in wellbeing could be people’s way of feeling like they have some control over their soul and spirits during this uncontrollable situation.

Some people are taking advantage of this increased demand on health products, like celebrity chef Pete Evans who last month tried to sell a $15k Bio charger that according to him, had a program that could help with the ‘Wuhan coronavirus’. Thankfully, he has been fined $25k for his unfounded claims and the product has been removed from his website.

Focus on sustainability

It may be due to wanting to reduce trips to the supermarket, reduce spending or bettering the environment, but one of the biggest changes has been the rise in conscious consumption – reducing food waste, shopping more cost consciously and buying more sustainable options.

According to Accenture’s survey, the top two priorities for consumers currently are limiting food waste and shopping more health consciously.The reduction of food waste could be attributed to perhaps households having less income and trying to utilise all their stock-piled food wisely. Alternatively it could be attributed to people trying to live more sustainably.

Urban List has taken advantage of this shift in behaviour by launching a new sustainability vertical on their site. Their founder Susannah George stating, “If this health crisis has taught us anything, it’s that the changes we make as individuals can profoundly influence the world we live in for the better. It’s never been clearer that, to thrive as a global community, we need to protect both our planet and our people.

Perhaps seeing the positive environmental impact that coronavirus has had, will cause a lasting shift in more sustainable practices moving forward.

The anti lipstick effect

An economic downturn is usually met with the ‘lipstick effect’; a term invented by Estee Lauder in 2001 describing the rise in demand for lipstick during a time of financial distress  – people tend to purchase cheap, small luxuries, like lipstick, to feel better. However, as we are spending so much more time inside (and wearing masks outside), there’s been a rise instead in items that have a longer effect than lipstick, like hair treatments, face masks and moisturiser. Kate Morris, founder of Adore Beauty explained that although lipstick and lip gloss sales are down 24% on their site, face masks and bath oils are up 150% and 120% respectively.

Change in work practices

The pandemic has forced businesses that might not have previously embraced working from home practices, to adapt. And although people might miss the social aspect of the workplace, the majority feel they have the right tools and can still collaborate easily with colleagues from home.

This forced WFH period may cause lasting changes in working practices since 30% of people said they are planning to increase the amount they work from home in the future.

There’s no doubt that consumer behaviour has shifted during the pandemic, the question remains if this will cause a sustained change in behaviours or if people will simply go back to the 'old' normal.

Sylvia Jahn

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