How Will The Pandemic Change Consumer Behavior

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By Kian Bakhtiari May 18, 2020

The revival of community 

From a cultural perspective, our values vary according to two contrasting dimensions: Individualism vs. Collectivism. Individualism focuses on personal freedom and individual achievement. Collectivism emphasizes group goals and the importance of the community. Generally speaking, people in the West (Western Europe and North America) tend to be more individualistic, and people in the East (Asia and Africa) tend to be more collectivist.

However, moments of crisis often pave the way for social solidarity. The pandemic has afforded western societies a chance to unite, collaborate and serve. Witnessing the power of collective action can change the way individuals relate to others, resulting in an increased sense of community. This cultural shift from “I” to “we” could have a permanent effect on consumer behavior. Research indicates people from individualist cultures prefer buying products and services associated with being successful and autonomous. But if society becomes more community-focused, then so will our shopping habits. In other words, buyer motivation will shift from personal gain towards products, services and experiences that can be shared and enjoyed with others. The very act of consumption will no longer be synonymous with social status, but rather social harmony. In short, consumers will become more receptive to brands that demonstrate prosocial behavior. And so, all future brand activity will need to benefit society, and not only the individual.

Analysis – With regards to consumer behavior and modern economic models, the COVID-19 crisis is an unprecedented force that will certainly play its role in the access vs. ownership binary. This article offers an interestingly optimistic perspective on the shifts from individualism, to collectivism as its argued that the pandemic has brought about a heightened awareness for community. A deeply captivating quote from this passage, “Research indicated people from individualist cultures prefer buying products and services associated with being successful and autonomous suggests this idea of autonomy in the context of ownership. This idea will help to guide research inquiry going forward.

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