Besides the health pandemic, companies are experiencing extreme distress because customers have have changes their behavior. Below I defined new customer behaviors influenced by the Coronavirus crisis:
Toilet paper effect
Sales are increasing drastically for products which are irreplaceable and necessary. Customers are buying in anticipation that the product will not be available later. This is affecting both B2C and B2B. Purchase managers, project managers, and others are recognizing that important suppliers will be able to deliver later, when needed, or at all in 2020, and they are buying in advance in order to maintain their own businesses and functions. Challenge is to meet the demand under the government restrictions or to have big enough stock.
To stressed to decide
Sales are decreasing or have stopped completely for products which are not essential. Under the current crisis it is not necessary to buy a second car, new furniture, a luxury bag, business training, mind map software, or anything else which does not provide hard and immediate value. Companies can try to offset this drop in sales by offering postponed payments, discounts, product bundles with products that sell, or they can lower costs and wait out the crisis.
Sales have stopped completely. Travel, restaurants, gyms, or any other products and services which increase the risk of infection are avoided. If the danger element – being in a high risk location – is eliminated with vouchers or online ordering – minimum cash flow might be retained, but this strategy will require a substantial content production. Companies that have always been very active in communicating to customers and have build strong relationships will handle this better.
Sales are increasing in products which suit the new customer behavior – working from distance, staying more at home, eating at home, being with kids at home. Streaming, video game consoles, teamwork software, food delivery, and any other entertainment and distance work product is experiencing a boom now. Companies have to be prepared for increased demand and, since these are mostly digital services, make sure their servers can take the additional load. This sales increase will not continue once customer return to normal behavior.
Currently, it is not clear how badly Coronavirus will affect the economy. The effect can be short term and related only to the health pandemic or can start a longer financial crisis which expands independently of the health pandemic. Either way, the key to reaching positive results in such situations is to understand new emerged customer behavior and adjust products, content, and relationships to it.
Crisis is a period where previous rules are replaced with new ones and companies must either adjust or wait the return to normal. If they choose to adjust they should rapidly test new approaches in products, content, and relationships. Companies which are more agile and have closer relationships with customers will perform better.
Increasing direct and personal interactions such as phone and email will help. Now is the time to be more understanding, to listen and learn more, and truly try to help customers.
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