Adapting Your Business to Changes in Consumer Preferences
People often point to the durability of large corporations as they make it through tough times, but it is the nimble ability of small businesses to pivot their practices that we should admire as we move into a post COVID-19 world.
In Australia, we’ve already seen the short-term effects of COVID-19 volatility, with March reporting a record jump of 8.5 per cent in retail trade, followed by a steep decline of 17.9 per cent in April, but while sales can be hard to predict – a shift in our customer preferences seems inevitable. Here’s three ways your business can remain on the forefront and deliver proactive changes to meet your customers’ changing needs.
1. Drive digital direction
COVID-19 has brought with it a lot of talk about the future of online sales and services. As customers became confined to their homes in self-isolation, online channels saw a major spike, even from traditionally resistant users. For example, in financial services and insurance alone daily transactional and online mobile app usage for Gen X and older has more than doubled – from 30% in 2018 to 64% in 2020.
With many of these newfound users likely to retain some of their consumption habits from COVID-19, small businesses should adapt their services to be easily accessible online. Investing time into a seamless customer experience across all online platforms and understanding the customer journey from search to purchase can work to optimise new customers and referrals, while improving the bottom line.
2. Visualise their values
Consumer preferences are constantly in flux, but COVID-19 has brought with it a general anxiety towards spending. NAB’s Consumer Anxiety Report rose 4.3 points in level of concern compared to this quarter last year, and general sentiment is likely to remain cautious for quite some time amidst restructuring talks and fears of a recession.
It’s not all bad news though, increased anxiety means we are seeing a growth in values for authenticity, community, and a care for social needs. Small businesses have an opportunity to engage authentically with their community in a way that larger corporations can’t. Pivoting your products and services to practical descriptions and honest, earnest interactions that engage with your community is a sure-fire way for your business to stand out from the crowd. If you’ve traditionally been quiet on social media, this is a great opportunity for you to change approach and interact with your customers on a level that best supports them.
3. Be data-driven
Like most major business decisions, your consumer data tells the story. Each industry is likely to face its own changes and challenges as the landscape shifts. We’ve already seen household items experiencing a temporary surge, leisure items adapting to meet demand, tourism seeking to reassure customer concerns and luxury items pivoting to remain relevant, which means each business will encounter a unique experience.
Employing effective data monitoring and analytics tools while consulting key growth changes from the past few months during COVID-19 is strongly recommended to best inform your decisions and make secure choices are grounded in the face of uncertainty. These changes can sometimes be unpredictable, and regularly consulting this data ensures your business is able to adapt sooner to meet the needs of your customers.
The ability of small businesses to adapt to new ways of interacting, servicing, and purchasing will be a critical part of their success in a post COVID-19 world. While new challenges will emerge, the strength and resilience of Australia’s small businesses to adapt to the changing circumstances and deliver the best customer experience through quick, informed decisions will ensure their longevity for many years to come.
Setting up your business for a bright future
With the restrictions in Australia easing slowly but surely, a return to some form of regular business operations is on the horizon. Whether your business is ready to return or you’re wondering what the best path forward is, WME are ready to collaborate on your goals. With expert teams in SEO, PPC, Social, Design and Content – we can tailor a marketing strategy that works best for your business. Let’s build a bright future for your business. To get started, call us on 1300 663 995 or submit a message online.
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