Buying patterns: Corona and global warming fuel the change in values

Since the beginning of the first lockdown, the course has been set anew on various levels in private, working and economic life, which is still having an effect on consumer behaviour today. However, not only Corona, but also topics such as climate change and sustainability are increasingly playing a role in customer awareness.

Cocooning: The home as a new centre of life

The lockdown-related restriction of public life due to the closure of restaurants, leisure facilities and even shops inevitably led to the home becoming the new focal point of everyday life. Many households now took the opportunity to renovate their living environment and at the same time upgrade it with new purchases. In a survey conducted by the market research institute Growth for Knowledge (GfK), it was found that in Switzerland, for example, suppliers of electronic goods and household appliances a plus of 2.6 per cent were able to record.

Online trade in particular was strengthened by the developments. Short-time work was also an important factor in this. The employees affected often had more time and, in the absence of available shopping and leisure opportunities, the corresponding money to devote themselves extensively to online shopping.

After a good financial year, some sectors, such as the DIY and garden center sector, had to accept a drop in sales in the first half of 2021 due to the rainy weather in many places and the current material delivery bottlenecks. However, industry insiders believe that the trend of focusing on the private environment will continue in the long term. They expect a "Decade of Home" out. One of the factors cited for this forecast is the general unease in public spaces caused by the pandemic.

New Normal: Fusion of working and living environments

Another side effect of the pandemic period is the emergence of home office workplaces. While many employees initially assumed that they would soon be returning to their external office, it became clear to many employees during the course of the pandemic that a return in the near future was becoming increasingly remote. Accordingly, there was a growing demand for a more professional upgrade of the initially provisional home office.

This was accompanied by an increase in demand for laptops and headsets as well as office equipment in general. By no means only wholesalers benefited from this development, but also small market niches. For example, suppliers of window shading systems also recorded significantly increased sales figures. According to online retailers such as Livoneo, for example, it was mainly Blackout curtains in great demandThe light-permeable curtains in the household often proved insufficient to protect windows and the home office from light and the heat of the sun.

Even if not all employees will become friends with the life model of working from home in the future: Home offices and the associated fusion of working and living will become permanently established. This is not only due to technical feasibility - such as the implementation of online team meetings or the digital exchange of work materials. In many companies, moreover, the original reservations about teleworking have subsided. Above all, the companies have recently been able to gather concrete practical experience.

But it is also attractive for professionals to work at least partially in a home office, as long commutes are no longer necessary and free time begins as soon as the computer is switched off. Work and private life can often be better combined.

Longevity increasingly in the focus of consumers and politics

The growing awareness of sustainability is another social trend, which, however, cannot be traced back causally to the Corona era, but to the increasing interest in environmental protection issues.

Thus, a change in values is increasingly taking place in consumer thinking. While customers in the industrialized countries at the beginning of the 21st century were primarily oriented towards the lowest price of a product, the increased media coverage of consumption-related environmental pollution and global warming in recent years has heightened their sensitivity. Thus, in addition to the pandemic crisis, the topic of climate change is currently one of the most greatest concerns of the Swiss population and 40 percent of the Swiss now expect companies to act more responsibly.

At the political level, too, there is increased steering in an environmentally friendly direction. For example, the European Union is making progress with the new Ecodesign Directive (2009/125/EC) has been imposing strict requirements on the manufacturers of its 27 member states since March 2020 in order to curb the excessive wear and tear on electrical appliances and the associated waste of resources and production of waste. Unlike in recent decades, appliances must be repairable from this year onwards and producers must keep spare parts in stock accordingly.

Ecology 2.0: Organic and regionalism on the rise

Increasing sustainability thinking inevitably also brings aspects of ecology into focus. Especially in the pandemic period, more organic food was purchased. One major reason is the catering closures, which initially led to more cooking at home, which was reflected in the generally high increase in food purchases. At the same time, more attention was paid to quality. Due to lower spending in shops or on leisure activities, many households also had more budget available to afford more expensive organic products. In Germany alone, a record turnover of almost 15 billion euros was achieved with a Growth plus 20 percent achieved.

However, even before Corona there were signs of growth in organic products throughout Europe. According to the German Association of the Organic Food Industry (BÖLW), the Denmark with 12.1 percent organic share of the food market in 2019, followed by Switzerland in second place with 10.4 percent and Austria in third place with 9.3 percent. Factors such as environmental protection, sustainability, regionality, species-appropriate animal husbandry, fair working conditions, but also simply a healthier lifestyle already played a role here for many consumers.

It is interesting to take a look at the target groups. According to a Statista survey from 2020, the around 42.7 percent of Generation Y in Germany, which comprises the 25 to 39 age group, attach great importance to organic labels when buying food. Among 14- to 24-year-olds, Generation Z, at least a third paid attention to organic quality criteria.

Accordingly, the organic sector is now looking forward to the younger generations. On the one hand, they are already growing up with a steadily increasing range of organic products in supermarkets and, last but not least, are already influenced by sustainability issues from home.

For marketing, this Generation Z also means an adjustment of the advertising strategy. For example, television and cinema are hardly important in this age group. The influence of influencers and celebrities is also limited. The greatest potential at present  provide social mediain order to reach younger target groups.

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