A New Era And A Changing Nigerian Consumer

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By Azeez Disu

Like the Game of Throne and many other thought-provoking movies that capture the effects of post war on their land, a pandemic called Coronavirus (COVID-19) has left its footprints and the general business landscape is not spared.

Also, consumers are not spared, as their purchasing power is affected as a result of decline in revenue or job loss. Surprisingly, marketers’ yesterday’s plan is no longer valid in this new world. However, as marketers are confronted with changing consumer behaviour and decline in patronage, winning consumers’ heart has become a great task.

Recall, government’s lockdown of economic activities due to the spread of the virus led consumers into this depleting state. However, some experts are of the opinion that things will soon return to normal and consumer will also return to their old lifestyle.

On the contrary, some experts believe that while some consumer will return to their old lifestyle, many will find it convenient to stick to their new lifestyle after spending months in lockdown. In line with this, Rosie Hawking, Kantar’s (a research firm) Chief Innovation Officer said, it takes between one and two months for new habits to become ‘sticky’.

So, it will take more than advertising for brands to win the heart of consumers back in this new world.

Below are some of the things causing shift in consumer behaviour which marketers and brands should recognise and take advantage of.

Health Consciousness

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, consumers have been more conscious of their health than ever, resulting in the increase in patronage of sanitisers, facemask, soaps and others.

Consumers are now keying into different health insurance products and health related initiatives that can help them in time of need, aligning to the popular saying that “health is wealth”.

Interesting to note that the health sector is getting more support from the government and private sector across the globe than ever and it is expected that pharmaceutical companies and others would have recorded a remarkable growth in their revenue by the end of the year.

Social Distancing

The lockdown may have been eased but social distancing is a new norm as people are avoiding crowded places, people are traveling only if it is absolutely necessary, even as experiential activities have yet to commence fully.

It is also challenging for brands to get their consumers to experience their products through exploring sight, sound, feel, smell and taste at this period as market activations and others remain banned. However, some innovative companies are taking the experience online and to television and in return they are staying connected and staying closer to consumers without physically coming close. Examples of TV shows taking advantage of the moment are Indomie Owambe Saturday, Pespi Turn Up Friday among others.

Value For Money

Consumers want value for money but on the contrary, they are unwilling to spend much because of the decline in their purchasing power.

According to Kantar research, the proportion of consumers who say they pay more attention to prices increased from 59% in late March to 68% by the end of April.

Furthermore, 45% believe brands should do more to help consumers by offering discounts and promotions.

For brands to remain afloat, new value-add strategies will need to be developed to respond to the economic anxiety that will remain for some time. Also, brand strategists will need to closely evaluate their resourcing strategies and explore the opportunities.

Remote Working

Most people still work remotely from their homes even after the lockdown, for example, companies like Facebook and Google have directed their employees to work remotely till the end of this year.

This means that some will not be traveling far every morning to work anymore; they would simply do almost everything within their house and neighbourhood. The advert on billboard and experiential activities they see in far location won’t be seen any more. So, brands will need to bring the experience close to the people, the advert to their locality and the brands they buy closer to them.

Innovative thinking is needed, “where are my consumers and how can I reach them in this new normal?”

Proximity Buying/Neigbourhood Stores

The lockdown gave rise to the growth of neighbourhood stores. Consumers who go far to get their goods especially the open market, now partonises their neigbourhood stores according to independent research.

Consumers revealed that the price difference is not much especially for food stuffs and it is much safer to buy where there is no crowd than to go to the open market and be exposed to COVID-19.

On a similar note, there is also an increase in patronage of made-in-Nigeria goods and services but the concern of consumers is on quality and they urged goods and services providers to make sure they stick to quality and align with international best practices.

In the same vein, Kantar research revealed that COVID-19 has driven a surge in “localism” around the world, with two-thirds (65%) of consumers now preferring to buy goods and services from their own country.

Ecommerce

E-commerce boom is expected to create new household brand names because 38% of consumers say they will continue to buy from online stores that they first visited during the crisis, while another 31% will continue to buy new products and services that they first started to buy during the crisis, this is according to kantar’s research.

Meanwhile, logistics companies are on the rise in the country and also are new ecommerce websites opening.

An insight firm, Global Webindex’s latest Wave 4 research, also revealed that the behaviours adopted during the pandemic could become new consumer habits. For example, almost one in three said they intend to shop online more frequently once the outbreak is over.

Online Presence and Storytelling

There is upsurge in online traffic and engagement and it include everything from shopping to events. There is also increase in Zoom conference, Instagram live chats and others. Brands are taking their campaigns online and for it to attract consumer and achieve desired objectives, it has to be engaging.

Award-winning filmmaker, Femi Odugbemi, Executive Producer/CEO, Zuri 24 Media said, “I think a lot of brands are missing an important storification opportunity. The information about the power of the brand, the efficacies of its solutions and others are meaningless until we storifythem into something that gets to the emotional centre of the consumer world and for me, that is a critical missing link which I don’t see much of it presently online, but there is opportunity for us to get into that boat.”

Participating In Reward Scheme

At this period, any promotion that give extra value or any reward scheme that seek to enrich consumers will be welcomed by consumers because they are willing to key into any scheme that would increase their wealth or turn them to ‘millionaires’.

Since sporting events like football matches resumed, betting companies have been catching in on consumer’s emotion with series of campaigns while more bet lovers are springing up not because of the love of the games but for the reward.

Technology Deployment

There is no doubt that technology has changed how companies conduct business. Remarkably, social media, online opinions, mobile devices and payments, integration of IoT, Big Data and cloud technology and augmented reality influence consumer behaviour.

Interestingly, data consumption is on the rise while the telecommunication companies are smiling to the bank amid call for 5G technology deployment. Meanwhile, brands need to take advantage of technology to engage and retain their consumers by turning negative feedback online to brand loyalty, offer solutions with their technological tools, and embark on serious social engagement strategies, among others.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Forrester, a market research company, advised brands to think long term and evolve the customer experience by: Stopping policies that are unfriendly to customers, being more transparent with customers about how they can help and continue the recovery cycle by mapping out the transition to new business-as-usual operations.

In addition, it should remove sources of customer stress and add benefits that demonstrate values.

Asides all these, now is time for brands to be creative while interacting with customers. This will support their effort to gain new business and maintain relationships with current clients.

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