A crisis is defined as a point at which change must come about, for better or worse. While the Covid-19 crisis is unlike anything we have experienced, we can take some learning from previous crises. The end of crisis usually brings new protocols. After 26/11 walking through a metal detector to enter the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai is now normal. After 9/11 having to remove your shoes and belts before boarding a flight is now normal. We’ve identified 4 variables that will be engrained in the consciousness of consumers after Covid-19.
Hygiene will be the new security
Protocols such as masks, temperature checks, compulsive hand-washing, frequent sanitization and social distancing will normalize in the long term. This pandemic has fundamentally altered the way consumers think about hygiene. Consumers will want products that have fewer touch points. Retail outlets (online and offline) will have to ensure that they can speak to the hygiene of their supply chains and distribution channels. The quest for ultimate hygiene may result in certain premium retail experiences being appointment driven.
Transparency will be the new trust
Consumers will want to know everything about their product or service. They will want to know the history of the people they are interacting with and the manner in which the product was prepared. For some base of consumers price will be secondary to transparency. Companies that can figure out how to deliver transparency at scale while maintaining quality will have a massive advantage.
Provenance will allow for premium
Brands that are acting prudently on a localized supply chain are better protected against global disruptions in the future. While this may lead to increased manufacturing cost and higher prices to consumers, it comes with the advantage of a reduced carbon foot print, enhanced product quality and more local jobs. Fundamentally, consumers will want to know where their product is coming from and assess the riskiness of that location as they make their purchase decisions.
Sustainability will engender loyalty
While we are searching for hope amidst fear, there is an opportunity for brands to turn those hopes into reality. Allbirds sneakers are gentler on the earth than the average sneakers. Allbirds decided to promote this by labeling their products with carbon footprint emission levels to encourage a mindful approach to consumption. “As difficult as this has been, it will get people to be much more focused on health, wellness and a natural, sustainable lifestyle. These are things that Allbirds has always stood for” says Allbirds’ president. The health of the earth and the impact that we are having on it has become apparent to everyone and therefore brands need to make sure that they are on the right side of this awareness.
Opportunities emerge for brands to differentiate
As the restrictions pullback these new consumer preferences will become apparent. In the short to medium term consumers will disproportionately value transparency and hygiene. However, companies looking for long term sustained differentiation should also develop their ability to differentiate based on sustainability and provenance.