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

Since the start of the first lockdown, the course has been set anew at various levels in private, working and economic life, and this is still having an impact on consumer behavior 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 center of life

The lockdown-related restriction of public life due to the closure of restaurants, leisure facilities and even stores 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 percent were able to record.

Online retailing in particular was strengthened by the developments. Short-time working 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 extensively to online shopping.

Following a good financial year, some sectors, such as the DIY and garden center sector, suffered a drop in sales in the first half of 2021 due to the rainy weather in many places and the current supply bottlenecks for materials. However, industry insiders believe that the trend of focusing on the private environment will continue in the long term. They anticipate 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 the working world and the living area

Another side effect of the pandemic period is the emergence of home office workplaces. While many employees initially expected to return to their external office in the near future, 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. It was by no means only wholesalers who 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 demand, as the translucent curtains found in the home often proved insufficient to adequately protect windows and home office from light and solar heat.

Even if not all employees will embrace the lifestyle 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, the original reservations about telecommuting have also subsided. Most recently, companies have also been able to gather concrete practical experience.

But it is also attractive for professionals to work at least partially in a home office, since long commutes are eliminated and free time begins as soon as the computer is switched off. In many cases, it is easier to reconcile work and private life.

Longevity increasingly in the focus of consumers and politics

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

For example, a shift in consumer thinking is increasingly taking place. Whereas customers in the industrialized countries at the beginning of the 21st century were primarily oriented toward the lowest price of a product, increased media coverage of consumption-related environmental pollution and global warming in recent years has heightened their sensitivity. In addition to the pandemic crisis, the issue of climate change is currently one of the most biggest 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, since this year appliances must be repairable and producers must keep spare parts in stock accordingly.

Ecology 2.0: Organic and regionalism on the rise

Increasing sustainability thinking inevitably brings aspects of ecology into focus. Especially during 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 stores or on leisure activities, many households also had more budget available to afford more cost-intensive organic products. In Germany alone, record sales of almost 15 billion euros were 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.

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

The organic sector is now looking to the younger generations with corresponding anticipation. For one thing, they are already growing up with a steadily increasing range of organic products in supermarkets and, not least, are already being shaped by sustainability issues at home.

For marketing, this Generation Z also means an adjustment of the advertising strategy. For example, television and cinema are no longer of much importance to this age group. The influence of influencers and celebrities is also limited. The greatest potential at present  offer social media, in order to reach younger target groups.

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