The effects of COVID-19 were immediate and felt by every industry and business across the globe. Customer behaviors and expectations changed overnight as fear and anxiety swept through communities, resulting in pandemic trepidation. Some businesses struggled to restock products that were flying off shelves, while others were directed to lock their doors and go home.
Events and experiences of all types – especially traumatic ones – shape customer behavior, expectations, and needs. Since the initial onset of COVID-19, analysts and forecasters predicted that buyers’ behaviors would change for good, and businesses would permanently change – pivoting from prioritizing convenience and cost to safety and wellbeing. Following suit, automotive brands began reimagining how they could incorporate mask holders and anti-microbial features into vehicles. Brick & mortars started redesigning spatial layouts and offering curbside experiences.
But instead of latching onto a single line of thinking and blindly following the suggested “new normal” best practices for our clients and their customers, we took pause. How do you validate where you really want your business and the experiences you craft to go? Is incorporating health and safety precautions more important than overburdening the customer? Do you continue to invest in something without first confirming it’s what customers really want?
Best practices are guidelines to be referenced, not hard and fast rules. In fact, innovators and market leaders who want to implement experiences of tomorrow shouldn’t be followers. Curiosity and critical thinking should lead the way. Uncovering pockets of opportunity that can change market strategies and transform experiences should be the goal.
That’s why we gathered insights to facilitate a different type of conversation. Is safety indeed the number one priority for customers across demographics and customer groups moving into a post-pandemic world? Or will businesses see digital experiences abandoned and customers eagerly flooding their physical stores?
We have to admit, the results of our research surprised us. And they might surprise you, too.