Kantar, the world’s leading data, insights, and consulting group, has identified five key behavioral shifts that consumers across Asia are expected to make in a post-COVID-19 world, as well as changes that businesses will experience as economies slowly start to reopen across the region.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a turning point in our history – not only for the healthcare system but also for business models that are changing the way they run their operations to adapt to the new normal,” Abad said. She added that Asia is in a unique position compared to the rest of the world. For one, Asia was at the center of the SARS pandemic that happened 15 years ago making its people ahead of the curve when it comes to the needed behavior change. Another factor that differentiates Asia, according to Abad, is its sense of societal cohesion and community-based mindset and culture. Lastly, the region has been showing its openness to change, especially in adapting new technology for e-commerce, the use of robotics in hygiene practices, and improved data-sharing to aid contact tracing efforts. 

During a virtual media discussion, Vicky Abad, Chief Client Officer at Kantar Philippines, discussed how the ongoing pandemic has altered the behavior of consumers in Asia, as they adapt to new ways of living, working and playing. She then shared Kantar’s insights on the five consumer behavior shifts that are here to stay even in the post-COVID era.

  • Protection

In a post-COVID-19 world, consumers will start paying more attention to investing in goods and services that offer stability, safety, hygiene and defense instead of seeking only lifestyle protection. As expected, people will invest in physical shields and protective spaces that offer safety outside their home. Career and investment decisions moving forward will also be driven by fear of experiencing another large-scale global crisis. While there is willingness to share data to safeguard the welfare of the majority, consumers will not be sacrificing their community’s digital security.

  • Well-being

After the pandemic, consumers will have a hyper focus on slowing down and nurturing self-growth, giving emphasis to science and in-home solutions. Significant strides to improve and promote mental and emotional health will be done in a post-COVID-19 world as homes become equipped with spaces or areas designed to promote wellness.

Abad noted that time will no longer be a “luxury commodity.” Instead it will be an abundant resource that many will use to safeguard their health against life-threatening illnesses by seeking immune boosting ingredients and leading a healthier and active lifestyle. This shift will make wearable technology an “essential” item for many.

  • Connections

From static relationships, people across Asia will embrace new and fluid networks after the pandemic. Many witnessed random acts of kindness during this challenging time. This level of optimism will fuel empathy and support, which will bring people with similar experiences closer, and they will be recognized as “Generation COVID”.

According to Abad, people will be more conscious of interactions with their peers and will limit their physical footprints and activities to avoid getting sick. Organizations and businesses will have to make remote working arrangements as part of the norm without sacrificing the company’s productivity.

Social distancing measures will also restrict netizens’ contact with their loved ones, which will fuel their creativity in establishing a level of digital intimacy despite their distance.

  • Flow

Consumers will value long-term convenience such as accessibility and flexibility, alongside short-term convenience of speed and efficiency in a post COVID-19 world.

Having undergone a prolonged period of uncertainty, people will develop a renewed appreciation for essential products and services, especially those that offer security of supply through premium subscription models. Products and services without subscriptions will force consumers to reach out to organizations and companies while maintaining a safe distance and a healthy respect for personal space. Consumers will pivot and adapt to unexpected and fluctuating circumstances, but they will also expect businesses to quickly change direction to meet their shifting needs.

The pandemic brought out the good in people. Ordinary citizens will continue to step-up and support the marginalized and underprivileged groups as the whole world heals and recovers from the pandemic. 

  • Experiences

After COVID-19, consumers will seek experiences that are practical, creative, and provide in-home fun. Many will search for experiences that provide wellness benefits, as well as fun and enjoyment. To achieve this, people will invest more on devices and platforms to embrace leisure and entertainment that will satisfy their mood and get rid of boredom at home. 

“There will also be a resurgence of analog experience as it satisfies consumers’ need for human-to-human connection that they were deprived of during the crisis period,” added Abad.

According to Abad, businesses must therefore prepare for these shifts and adapt accordingly to avoid being alienated from the rest of the post COVID-19 world. Companies must be mindful and ready to shape their business models according to the new consumer behaviors to survive, thrive and ensure relevance in the new world.