06 May 2020
Author: Linzi McGuire
With a long career in FMCG and Technology, we spoke to our Technology Director, Lindsay Hey about consumer habits, technology and what this means for the Tech industry and brands in the new normal.
Read on to discover her view on what will become important to the consumer of the future:
“It’s worth noting that it’s not only how consumers engage in technology that’s changing, but rather what they buy and who they buy from.
From what we’ve seen so far during the 7 weeks of lockdown, it appears that purchases will become more considered especially when it comes to things like electronics, home and fashion. Throwaway, low quality goods will be the ones to suffer. Of course, consumers will still want to treat themselves but when it comes to technology it’s likely that products that will last will be the ones to win. Consumers will make less frivolous purchases, favouring products and brands that come with aftercare and customer support. Shopping around for the best price may be secondary concern after this.
The retail environment, and whether they feel safe here, will also be a top consideration. If a consumer has to put themselves in an unsafe or uncomfortable environment to get the product then they may forfeit the purchase altogether. Having the options of virtual help, click and collect, home delivery and ease of access to after care services, will weigh heavily on a decision to purchase at all.
“In Consumer Electronics in particular, technology has really helped to maintain communities, not just in the UK and Ireland, but around the world during Government restrictions. Online gaming is a community in itself and this technology allows gamers to find connections with their friends, while escaping from their real lives and living in the virtual world.
Video calling is also here to stay, and it’s being more widely used across age groups which is amazing. When Facebook launched Portal, everyone laughed because it was a product without a real need - until Covid that is, and now it’s sold out everywhere. Video conferencing is not just for businesses anymore, it’s become the common way to connect with family and friends as one group and this is likely to continue post-Covid as consumers of all ages make this part of their routines where f2f gatherings aren’t possible.
During the lockdown people have become much more reliant on their personal devices like phones, tablets and laptops. Their home set up and collaboration services like Microsoft 365 (formally Office 365) is also important to them. These critical products are here to stay and so it’s important that they’re kept up to date, so updates and aftercare here will be really important.
The increase in subscription services is also a trend on the rise. The number of people who have recently subscribed to services like Now TV, Spotify, meditation, exercise, food subscriptions or delivery services, audio books and more is incredible. The trick will be keeping these consumers engaged so they stay loyal and don’t disengage as soon as the lockdown restrictions relax.
Food preparation at home will also stick – people are searching for more and adventurous recipes on the internet, getting back to basics with raw ingredients and crucially they’re also looking for the tools and equipment that help them prepare and cook at home. Combine that with the desire to buy quality products and brands that will stand the test of time and offer trusted aftercare services, then brands like DeLonghi, Braun and Kenwood might do well here.
“Different industries are at different stages with their adoption and successful use of technology during Covid-19 but there is one I’d like to mention because of the huge opportunity for success if we can get this right, but also because of the strain it’s putting on those who are involved in this at the moment, and that’s education, mainly primary and high school.
Across the UK and Ireland, we’ve seen a trend of a whole host of schools trying to quickly adopt a technology approach in an admirable but generally haphazard manner. We’ve fallen behind other countries around the world who have already widely adopted the Google, Apple or Microsoft approach. What’s largely happened with us now is a mish mash of technological band aids to get us over the line during this pandemic with no clear approach or direction for the future.
The flaws lie in a lack of a clear process or toolkit for remote teaching which means that we’re seeing a combination of email and 3rd party apps being used for assignment setting, Teams, zoom or some other video calls for live lessons and google classroom, office 365 or a dropbox for pupils to upload their work, all with a lack of training for both the teachers and the pupils.
At the moment it’s really messy and it seems to be driven by teacher ability and personal preference rather than process. This is making it a tough job for teachers, schools and parents to manage.
There is an opportunity here for schools to get a grip of their approach to technology and contain all of this within one secure environment, not forgetting the importance of training teachers and pupils on a structured approach to lessons, whether these replace or supplement f2f teaching.
“It’s important for brands to engage with not only their existing, but their new consumer base gained during covid-19. Some brands will have a whole new audience who they didn’t necessarily target. The ones who find a way to create a relationship and community with these consumers will be the ones to thrive post-covid as they turn them into brand ambassadors and consumers for life, leveraging the time when they were there for them in their moment of need during a global pandemic.
Also, the brands who can quickly support the industries who are still dipping their toes into the new normal of technology enabled engagement will be the ones to win in a post-covid world.”
There are a number of ways for brands to win in the new normal. Talk to us about how to engage your consumer base to tun them into loyal band ambassadors, or anything else we’ve discussed here (or anything we haven’t). We’d be delighted to have a chat with you to see how we can help you win in a post-covid world!
ABOUT THE EXPERT:
For more information on Lindsay Hey, Technology Director, visit her LinkedIn page.