It’s no secret consumer behaviors experienced a major shift during the pandemic. Marketers and communicators have been watching closely to see how these changes would affect the post-pandemic world. For Team Avaans, we have our eyes on how these post-pandemic consumer shifts will particularly impact emerging industries like drones, cannabis, and online immersive experiences.
Post-Pandemic Shopping Habits Reflect Online Changes
The latest Harris Poll provides some great insight into what consumers think they will do.
It’s actually not much of a surprise that consumers see themselves as online shoppers at new levels. What’s actually more surprising to me at least, is the number of people who say they will shop at a department store or mall. Honestly, I think retailers can grab onto this and combine it with a bit of nostalgia to make the shopping more of an experience, which is what I believe consumers are craving. I also think consumers are craving any experience outside the home, so retailers will need to see themselves as curators of the experiential if they’re to stay top of mind for consumers as the re-opening of America really takes hold later this summer.
In-person retailers and entertainment venues will have safety concerns to contend with as well. People want to go back to being with others, they just don’t want to feel unsafe doing it and they will expect buildings and venues and businesses to take the lead on protecting them moving forward. Expect to see investments in air purification and upgraded surface sanitation as among consumer expectations.
Post-Pandemic Consumer Shifts for Emerging Industries
I also believe that these numbers will impact emerging industries even more and here’s why: consumers in the nascent stages of establishing buying patterns have less nostalgia and fewer habits, so those formed in the early stages will stick around longer. For industries with direct retail exposure, like cannabis, this will be incredibly impactful.
Consumer Shifts for Cannabis
Specifically, in cannabis, which benefitted from the “essential business” designation in many states, this will be a time of great opportunity but also change. Cannabis consumers most definitely took advantage of curbside pickup and delivery options during the pandemic. But cannabis is a social drug, and as users are reconnecting with old friends, they’ll likely merge old patterns with new and start expecting a more “on-demand” version of cannabis delivery, more closely mirroring food delivery.
Consumer Shifts for Online Immersive Experiences
We’re also seeing another emerging industry: online experiences. These could be games like online escape rooms, platforms like Oculus, or immersive publishing. While many of these businesses took hold during the pandemic for obvious reasons, what these numbers suggest to me is consumers now see the online experience as integrated with their offline experience in a more holistic way; the lines are blurring and consumers, especially under 50, accept that. I believe online entertainment expansion will absolutely increase in the next year. I also believe the summer months won’t be the most extraordinary for these businesses, but as the days grow shorter in the fall and we collectively return to inside the home, we will look for ways to escape and online immersive experiences will be ready to transport us.
Consumer Shifts for the Drone Industry
The re-opening of America will also remind consumers of privacy concerns in a way they haven’t thought about in a while. During the pandemic, many mysterious drone sightings caused local concern, but the news never sunk into the national consciousness because of the overwhelming pandemic and election news. Consumer acceptance of big-ticket online purchases and drone curiosity, along with the ability to be together again, will all benefit drones. But overall, the drone industry would be wise to stay fully attuned to consumer shifts in privacy, particularly in rural areas where drone flying is subject to fewer regulations, but where the culture is very attuned to privacy concerns.
These are a few of the trends we’re watching as post-pandemic consumer shifts continue to emerge. As you’re planning for the rest of 2021 and into 2022, if you’d like to review your assumptions or internal research, reach out to us, we’re watching industries from many angles and incorporating insights from multiple sources.
Other Resources and Insights
5 PR Trends CMOs Need to Watch in 2021