When it comes to converting consumers, many businesses have a habit of overlooking the psychological processes that drive the urge to make a purchase. This can perhaps be understandable when we’re marketing to a large group of people and only have time to look at highly-performing campaigns on the surface, without digging deeper into the effect they have. However, this could prove to be the undoing of some businesses as the news of a COVID-19 vaccine has sparked optimism at a return to something that resembles normality.
Insights into consumer behavior form the cornerstone of successful conversions, but from 2021 onwards, the behavior that we’re used to seeing may change. In this post, we'll take a deeper look into the importance of understanding the psychological makeup of consumers, as well as mounting an exploration into how post-COVID markets may have altered forever. We'll cover:
- The importance of consumer psychology.
- How consumer perceptions have changed in the age of COVID-19.
- The power of A/B or multivariate testing in adapting to these changed mindsets.
The importance of consumer psychology
2020 has been a challenging year, and it appears that for some, the effects of the devastating virus has led to fundamental changes in personality traits. Marketing is built on an understanding between brands and their consumers. But in the wake of such a significant global event, it may be time for marketers to reassess their consumers, and reconsider how they plan on marketing products and services to them.
For any online store, data about the behavior of consumers is one of the most important business assets an outlet can possess. Through behavioral data analysis, ecommerce websites can take deep consumer insights and present a more personalized experience for visitors.
Put simply, consumer behavior analysis provides data-driven observations into customers online and how they interact with your store.
One of the most important things that online tools can provide insight on when it comes to monitoring how customers interact with a store comes in the form of browsing behavior.
The browsing behavior of consumers can be tracked by web analytics tools which can consider factors such as how the consumer is attracted to a particular ecommerce store, what products they like, and how personalized landing pages affect their conversions.
The purchasing behavior of consumers can also be effectively tracked. This can offer greater insights into the psychological makeup of consumers due to how it can identify buying patterns and the response to promotional campaigns.
These insights can be particularly useful when gaging the reception to certain seasonal purchasing patterns, or preferences towards a particular line of products. It can also help to gauge consumer reactions to promotional offers and limited-time discounts.
Finally, the email behavior of consumers is another way to see how individuals react to marketing campaigns and where improvements can be made in marketing materials.
Email behavior helps to provide insights into how consumers respond to the message inside email marketing campaigns. This, in turn, can help to analyze consumer behavior based on factors like open rates, click-through rates, and the number of emails that led to a purchase being made on site.
As we can see in the example above —which in this case listed the demographics attached to Coca-Cola drinkers—the wealth of insights available from consumer behavior can be used to create rich visualizations of what buyers are like, and who they are likely to be.
However, in a shifting consumer environment, marketers may have to act fast to adapt to the shifting mindsets of their core audience.
How consumer perceptions have changed in the age of COVID-19
The arrival of COVID-19 in the spring of 2020 has carried severe ramifications on a humanitarian scale and has also decimated countless industries along the way. The pandemic hasn’t just changed the way we live and work, however, it’s also permanently changing consumer behavior.
Individuals have spent much of the past year reshaping their lives to suit new daily routines that largely involve working from home and practicing social distancing for prolonged periods of time. This new emphasis on the health and safety within and outside of quarantine has prompted new habits emanating from consumers—accelerating long-standing social media and ecommerce trends that have been steadily forming in recent years.
Notably, the available data appears to show that these trends won’t reverse once a vaccine arrives and the world recaptures some form of normality. The EY Future Consumer Index, for instance, reports that 42% of consumers agree that the way they shop will fundamentally change in the wake of COVID-19.
Figures for digital social media and entertainment platforms have accelerated during the onset of the pandemic, showing that social media marketing may overrun more traditional approaches in a post-Covid world.
Elsewhere, increasing numbers of shopping are taking place both online or via dedicated apps—as opposed to physical purchases in stores or collections from local hubs.
In a recent report, McKinsey & Company notes that a significant shift is taking place where consumers are beginning to favor ecommerce, trusted brands, sustainable items, and more local physical stores while losing interest in more discretionary spending.
Notably, the report highlights several new challenges for marketers in a post-COVID-19 society, especially when it comes to adapting to shifting platforms in which consumers engage with campaigns and brands.
Another mounting challenge revolves around the fight to stay relevant across multiple touchpoints, from within multi-brand stores, e-retailers, the brand website, brick and mortar stores, and various other platforms. This will be key in winning customer loyalty with the help of CRM systems, communicative avenues, and incentivization.
These challenges are accompanied by the need for allocating more campaign resources away from out-of-home advertising, print and trade marketing, and into more digital marketing approaches.
Not only has COVID-19 changed the way consumers engage with brands and how they shop, but it’s also altered their psychological intent. Accenture notes that the virus has formed three new consumer trends:
As more individuals have the time when working from home to stop and take stock of their lives, a new trend towards healthy living has emerged among consumers.
Consumers have become more mindful of the items that they’re buying. They are actively working to limit food waste, and are aiming to shop more consciously in buying more sustainable products. Brands and marketers alike will need to adapt their business models to accommodate this growing trend.
The rise of the virus has led to more consumers looking to stay local to make essential purchases. This has caused community stores to experience something of a renaissance and more locally sourced and artisanal products to be bought by higher volumes of people. This may cause brands to look for new ways to connect with consumers on a local level—whether it involves highlighting local provenance, customizing products for local needs, or engaging with shoppers in a more locally relevant way.
This significant trend towards more responsible and ethical shopping may be a vital opportunity for marketers to quickly latch on to the changing psychology of consumers and how a post-COVID society may shape their purchases.
Fortunately, there are some ways in which businesses can effectively adapt to the growing momentum of the changing psychology of consumers:
The power of the A/B and multivariate test in adapting to changed consumer perceptions
One of the most vital ways of ensuring that your business is ready to adapt to the changing mindsets of consumers is by utilizing both A/B and multivariate testing on eCommerce websites and brand landing pages.
While A/B testing is an effective way of presenting consumers with two different landing pages that can encompass various sentiments for consumers to either enjoy or bounce back from, multivariate testing is a much more comprehensive technique that combines various elements of a page for a fuller picture.
In a nutshell, multivariate testing is a technique for testing a hypothesis where multiple variables are modified. The aim here is to find the very best combination of features and facets for a successful website that understands the new consumer market best.
As we can see from the example above, the art of multivariate testing is that businesses can get a much better level of insight into how well a website design suits the changing behaviors of consumers.
Because websites and mobile apps are created with scores of combinations of changeable elements, a multivariate test changes various elements—much like changing a picture and headline at the same time. Using this as an example, three variations of the image and two variations of the headline can then be combined to create six versions of the content – which are then tested all at the same time to see which one gains the most favorable interactions.
This form of rigorous testing is vital should marketers be looking to adapt their business model while looking for more effective campaign materials for product or service conversions.
Analyzing sales funnels
Although many marketers may have the idea of forensically dissecting their sales funnels, the changing psychology of a post-pandemic market calls for greater analysis and re-analysis of which stages of a customer’s journey is more seamless on-site than others.
Prioritize understanding your consumers on a psychological level
COVID-19 has caused plenty of upheaval in the world of marketing in 2020, and it’s becoming clear that its effects won’t go away with the arrival of a vaccine. Marketers will need to deeply analyze their funnels to adapt to how consumers will behave after the pandemic. The transitional process will certainly become clearer over time, but in order to return to normality with ease, it’s vital that businesses act fast to accommodate this new form of custom.
With rigorous A/B or multivariate testing and continuous sales funnel analysis, the arduous process of appealing to the new mindsets of consumers can be made a little more straightforward. Giving marketers just enough time to rebrand their campaigns ready for the ‘new normal.’
About the author
Dmytro Spilka is a CEO at Solvid, a creative, long-form content creation agency based in London. Founder of Pridicto. His work has been published in Shopify, IBM, Entrepreneur, BuzzSumo, Campaign Monitor, and Tech Radar.