The Digital Take Off: Will Our Consumer Habits Be Permanently Changed Due to Covid-19?

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, many individuals, businesses and industries have had to adapt and experience changes in order to; comply with Coronavirus restrictions, ensure the safety of individuals and to ensure the viability of their business. Today’s blog will look at whether it is likely that these temporary changes in consumer behaviour- including digitalised methods of shopping- will have a significant impact on the future of consumerism, and methods of marketing and public relations practices.

Image: Royalty Free.

Over the past few months, many organisations have had to either adapt their businesses to become more digital-friendly or enhance their digital presence due to the restrictions on face-to-face contact. A digital method of consumerism which has gone from having relatively little influence on many consumers to being significant in the way we consume food, drink, products, and information is the QR Code. Despite QR Codes having been in use since the 1990s in car manufacturing, their use in everyday consumption, especially on the high street, has been relatively low, up until now. In my experience, I had only come across QR Codes on a handful of occasions over the past few years, with their primary function being a source for additional information- I had not personally seen them used as a medium to purchase goods.

When some of the Coronavirus restrictions were lifted over the summer period last year, QR Codes grew in dominance- particularly in the food and beverage sector. Now, they are not such an unusual sight- they have taken the place of menus in a number of restaurants and have been vitally important in the efforts preventing the spread of Coronavirus through the NHS Track and Trace system. This begs the question- as the prominence of QR Codes has significantly increased over the past few months, especially in terms of everyday consumption, will QR Codes continue to rise to be a popular method of accessing goods, services and information?

Image: Royalty Free.

The rise in the reliance on the internet and digital means to buy and sell goods and services may also alter our future consumption habits. The accessibility and ease of ordering goods online has been amplified throughout the pandemic- especially as all non-essential retail outlets have been closed for a significant portion of both 2020 and 2021. Despite future trends in consumption and our collective habits being relatively hard to predict due to varying circumstances, I think it is evident that the dominance and the reliance on the internet will definitely influence our future habits. I think this will be most notable within the food and beverage sector, as restaurants and pubs have traditionally not been associated with digital methods of exchanging goods and services, whereas the retail industry has had a significant head-start in providing goods online, for many years prior to Covid-19. During the pandemic, the food and beverage industry has altered by using the internet and mobile phone apps to facilitate food and drink orders, as well as becoming takeaway-friendly during periods of tougher restrictions.

The need to adapt to the digital era has presented challenges to some businesses with more traditional business models and practices. However, it has also provided an opportunity for new businesses to be established and thrive, turning a negative situation into something positive. An example of this is a 20 year old hairdresser who, whilst on furlough, created an online business selling teeth cleaning devices, while dentists were closed during the first lockdown. He has since diversified his business, to provide goods which are temporarily unavailable in their traditional formats, such as gym equipment.

It seems that the need for businesses to diversify and adapt to the more digital era we are living in is becoming more and more important as time goes on. This has the potential to impact on consumer habits in both the near future and in the longer term, as digital methods of providing and receiving goods and services is essential in the current climate. It is difficult to predict whether this will permanently change consumer behaviour, however it will be interesting to see what adaptive methods stay post-Covid-19. What do you think will happen to our future habits as consumers- do you think that the digital adaptations we have made will be here to stay?

Thank you for reading.

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