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4 ways businesses can keep a real-time pulse on changing customer preferences

Posted By Tasnim Ahmed

June 24, 2021    |     4-minute read (732 words)

The coronavirus pandemic has been the bane of countless businesses over the past year, razing startups and established companies alike in its wake. The widespread lockdowns of 2020 drove renowned companies such as Ascena Retail, Belk, Brooks Brothers, Chuck E. Cheese and Century 21 Stores into bankruptcy, to name a few. Debt-fueled buyouts and consumer shifts from shopping in malls and supermarkets to e-commerce hurt companies’ bottom lines.

Entrepreneurs have had to adapt to a world marked by uncertainty, rapidly evolving customer behaviors and increased health and safety regulations. From new startups cutting their teeth right when the pandemic hit, to the owners of mom-and-pop stores, those who adapted well to social distancing and the online revolution brought a spectacle of headline-making case studies. To succeed like they did requires pivoting in keeping with changing customer preferences. Here are four initiatives that will resonate with where customers are today.

  • Health is wealth

This has to be the mantra for successful businesses of our era. Health is the underlying factor in most decisions taken by individuals today, and they expect it to be addressed by businesses they frequent. If you are in a health-related business, now may be the chance to make some hay while the sun shines. Try new things, market your brand in a different way or opt for new offerings. Customers are experimenting now. Once the behavior sets in, it can’t be broken. If you do not cater to the health sector, try finding a connection or gathering insights that will help put you into that sphere, or rather position you as a brand that has a positive impact on users’ health. This will ensure that you stay relevant.

  • The “value” talk

In these uncertain times, what does everyone want for their hard-earned money? Money that might disappear tomorrow. It is “value.” Anything that offers a greater value to the purchaser in terms of perceived price will be deemed as more desirable than its higher-priced counterpart. In other words, the cheap and sensible version is more apt to win versus the indulgent one. 

This doesn’t mean products with marked-down prices will fly off shelves; it means that a higher-priced product that makes more sense to a user at this particular time has a bigger chance of being purchased compared to during normal circumstances. 

It is also the time to conduct some due diligence on your competitors to “rediscover” the unique selling proposition of your offerings to present a re-energized lineup. Research to observe what consumer preferences are, and also look at what your cheaper alternative is offering.

According to a McKinsey & Company study, “Given consumers’ price sensitivity, value remains the primary reason for consumers to try new brands as well as new places to shop. Aside from value, convenience and availability are most often cited as top drivers of consumers’ decisions about where to shop, while quality and purpose (desire to support local businesses, for example) are the more important considerations when choosing new brands.”

  • Virtually yours

The whole world has migrated online. Now that social distancing and remaining indoors have become part of our reality for so long, having an online presence is a no-brainer. In the virtual world, you will be still operational and able to reach customers needing while also getting some new ones in the process at a lower cost than traditional mediums. 

The internet also gives wings to your creativity and broadens your scope for reaching a new audience. E-commerce has grown at an exponential rate in the last year and making your mark in the space is one of the best investments you can make. Meet, sell, advertise or market, it can be all done remotely and at a fraction of the cost.

  • The leisure wave

People have been restricted to their homes and barred from activities once taken for granted. Going to the gym, the park or just hanging out with friends have all been on hold. With so much free time and being cooped up inside, people are focusing more on themselves and how they spend their leisure time, including mental wellness, general well-being and the need to have unique experiences. Market your product as something they “need.” With more free time, people are searching for things that make a positive impact in their lives. So, try making your product or service a part of that.

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