Words by Chantelle Muñoz
Illustrations by Ross Du
Covid-19 will forever go down in history for being one of the biggest crises of the modern world, having forced all of us, regardless of demographic, to rethink each and every aspect of our lives. We now find ourselves adopting new mindsets as we continue to navigate this strange and changing world. And because of the scale at which this pandemic has impacted the world and the people residing in it, many of these changes will be around for good.
Each born out of necessity yet likely here to stay, we talk about 5 habits we have observed that we believe will form the foundation of the post-pandemic Filipino consumer.
1. Think Responsibly: Consumers will keep brands in check.
The past few months have seen us collectively tackling a pandemic, facing an impending recession, and battling successive human rights problems both here and abroad. These have led many of us to rethinking our values not only as humans but also as consumers.
We are experiencing an unprecedented junction of security, economic, and social meltdowns. With wallets and budgets tighter and a strong spotlight on human rights violations all over the world, people are becoming more conscious of which businesses to patronize. It calls for people to be more mindful of how they consume not only for now but for perpetuity.
This realization is setting the stage for a consumption culture where people hold companies to the same standards they hold their fellow men. Brands have always had the power to create change, and this time of crisis has created a stark divide between the brands that have chosen to take action and the brands that have not. As people choose to associate themselves with brands that share their now heightened sense of responsibility, they will continue to keep tabs on brands not only with regard to products and services, but especially when it comes to employee, customer, and social welfare. They are aware of the voice they have given brands, and brands must now use that voice for good.
2. The New Bayanihan: Consumers will prioritize shopping small and local.
Despite being on lockdown, there was a noticeable increase in entrepreneurial efforts all over the country. We saw online marketplaces set up on social media to support struggling businesses while our Instagram feeds were populated with purchases from small, home-based sidelines that birthed online village and neighborhood markets. We’ve long considered purchases as votes. And despite the difficulties of today, we see that people have casted many for smaller businesses, especially those closer to them both in terms of proximity and personal relations.
The focus on hyperlocal was already in motion pre-Covid, although often sold as a novelty. The pandemic has taught people that supporting small and local is another way they can actively help the people around them. And with the internet full of features in support of small (such as Instagram’s Support Small Business sticker), it will continually become easier and more commonplace for a broader market to do so. In turn, brands that have chosen to advocate the country by championing local causes and job creation will benefit from communicating this with a new audience.
Consider this a new form of Bayanihan and community building, where we directly and consciously support each other in times of need, growth, and prosperity. Where we can expect the consumer’s vote to be for local—for the Philippines and for the Filipino.
3. Brand New: Consumers needs have now leveled up.
Many consumers are finding ways to replicate pre-pandemic experiences at home, such as doing home workouts or ordering meal kits from restaurants. And while our biggest classroom, the outside world, is taking a break, people are looking for other ways to learn remotely, creating a spike in tutorials and recreational classes online.
Being under lockdown has forced us all to become more self-sustaining in an effort to maintain a semblance of normalcy. This will instill in consumers a more long-term way of thinking and the urge to always be prepared. People will look into starting urban gardens to ensure and enjoy a steady supply of fresh produce. Some will start looking into learning more practical skills like a certain quarantine favorite, cutting hair. Cinema buffs who have now gotten used to watching movies from home may continue to do so if they have figured out how to match the theater experience. People in need of medical assistance may no longer go to hospitals and instead opt to do virtual consultations similar to how we currently do.
Rather than making some products and services obsolete as many businesses fear, this just means that today’s consumer has evolved. To adapt, brands must study the change in customer habits, abilities, and needs, then be able to adjust their offerings accordingly. The game is far from over—we’re now just a level further.
4. Safety First: Consumers will expect safety designed into everyday.
Over the past few months, we have all been taking measures to ensure that we feel safe during these uncertain times. Our focus during the past months was ensuring our homes are safe spaces; now, with cities opening up, we are rethinking everyday transactions such as payments and deliveries and the safety standards we need to protect people on both sides.
The topic of safety will remain in the conversation long after it is deemed safe to go outdoors. As we continue to learn about new ways to live safely, we’ll begin to seamlessly integrate safety measures into our new lifestyles. Instead of hand sanitizers and non-contact thermometers, we may be looking at touchless technology being the standard for new buildings. There may be a move towards e-wallets being the primary mode of payment despite our country’s general preference to pay in cash. People will start committing to healthier lifestyles instead of relying on cures, especially after witnessing a disease that has yet to have one. Prevention is becoming part of everyday planning and design, and only rightfully so.
As prevention becomes practice, people will also expect brands to have consumer and employee safety in mind at all times. Safety protocols will become a given for all consumer touchpoints as our focus shifts from finding temporary solutions to planning for safety from the get go. As we have learned from the recent public health crisis, prevention is key.
5. Keep in Mind: Everyone will rethink the value of time and the meaning of productivity.
Our previous lives ran with the speed and the grind. But under quarantine, we had no choice but to slow down. This was something many of us struggled with at first. After all, we often defined our success by the things we’re able to put out and we were just trying our best to function normally in a world where normal was no longer.
For many, the pressure to be productive did more harm and good. We soon realized the importance of being mentally healthy in a time of uncertainty and took it upon ourselves to be mindful of not only our own mental states but also that of the people around us.
As we learn to let our mental health take precedence over our urge to do something at all times, we’re also starting to reshape the definition of true productivity. In fact, many of us are starting to look at slowing down as productive in itself. By allowing better care for both mental and physical health, people are beginning to see productivity as something holistic. Workers may begin to consider leaving the fast and stress-inducing cities in search for peace in suburban areas or in the provinces. Some will start reorganizing the way they spend their time to finally achieve the much elusive work-life balance. Most notably, companies may start using this as a metric for employee productivity. That rather than creating the most with the least, maybe it’s time to finally measure productivity by impact beyond quantity and scale.
These are delicate times for all kinds of businesses. To survive, it is more important than ever to understand people’s deepest needs and wants. Consumer habits are undeniably in the middle of a drastic and largely unpredictable change, but this doesn’t mean businesses should just let things be and hope for the best. Instead, brands should heed the call for change—after all, it’s an invite from consumers to evolve together.