Much of our current movement must be planned and timed specifically. Public transportation is operating with reduced capacity and social distancing measures in most places. Public spaces and leisure areas face similar precautions, limiting the amount of potential for serendipitous encounters. Less meet-ups with friends to grab a coffee and a bite to eat and less opportunities for well-dressed windows to entice us to purchase.
When people do go out, brands can’t rely on consumers spontaneously happening upon their products. For this post in ‘The changing behaviour series’ we examine how using historical behaviour data can provide brands with indicators of intent, that will help them plan for those moments of spontaneity once again.
We’ve already seen how shopper repertoires shrunk during the pandemic and when people went out to buy their essential items they ventured out less and, more often than not, returned to the same store, to protect themselves and others. This spontaneity factor negatively impacts branded retailer stores, where the chance visit is less likely when lockdowns are still in place. However, the spontaneity of decision-making in-store is perhaps less impacted with FMCG brands more likely to benefit from impulse when consumers are faced with a shelf of options in-store.
On the other hand, according to Barabási, “Spontaneous individuals are largely absent from the population. Despite the significant differences in travel patterns, we found that most people are equally predictable”. Of course some newly acquired habits or behaviours may stick, once lockdown lifts, but it’s likely that most of us will revert to our old habits and patterns and spontaneous discoveries will reignite an interest in shopping.
In the final post on this topic we consider how shrinking wallets might expand target audiences for brands. Read it here.