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the new normal and the new consumer

The New Normal & The New Consumer

Sometimes, the tides of change are so strong you cannot just contain them. You have to go with the flow, if you want to survive the sea and to land safely. And in this scenario, the “New Normal” is more like a tsunami: not the usual buzzword, but a concept you need to fully understand.

If you are used to facing the truth, you should already have noticed the different normality we are living in. The new gestures and attitudes, the new habits and even language. All those elements will deeply change society and business, because, together, they form the New Normal. And companies that are not willing to deal with it, are going to suffer the consequences. It’s already happening all around us.

These words define the “normalization of a previously exceptional situation”, its shift towards routine, turning something that we saw as different before into a standard. It is not the first time that this concept has been introduced: it was first used to refer to the 2008 economic crisis aftermath, just to later become a part of the jargon within the New York fashion environment.

Now the concept of New Normal has certainly adapted to the historical moment we are experiencing, referring to new normality characterized by greater attention to public health. This implies greater attention to self-care and to the prevention of those around us. An evolution of the new normal which, as defined by the US consultancy Mc Kinsey, could also become Next Normal.

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Smart Working as the starting point of the new normality

One of the main characteristics of the new normal is smart working. Initially used only into the most innovative companies and startups, smart working became a necessity for millions of people around the world during the Coronavirus pandemic. A work situation faced by small companies (which have never had any contact with digitization) up to public offices, such as schools.

The pandemic has helped transform smart working from taboo to new normal. According to an investigation by ANRA, the National Association of Risk Managers, only 31% of employees were able to take advantage of smart working before the pandemic, while now, the workers who completely carry out the activities remotely represent almost 80%.

A strong impact on all aspects of everyday life, introducing profound changes in the professional, organizational and social context, but contributing not only to the formation of the New Normal, but also to that of the New Consumer.

Smart working has certainly brought the consumer’s new purchasing habits. Think about it, staying at home all day will surely bring changes not only to your personal habits but also to family, work and consumption habits. Always remember this statement: COVID has created a new generation of consumers.

Industries affected by new consumer habits

While only a small part of the industries we know have already introduced new measures to adapt to the new normal, all of them have already been heavily influenced by it.

We can make some examples, just to mention some of the most evident cases, but remember that we could tell the same for nearly every possible industry:

Real Estate: The impact of the crisis, and the consequent affirmation of smart working, has led to a rethinking of traditional solutions for living and working. A survey of Scenari Immobiliari says that the future is likely to bring shifts in demand within urban centers towards more peripheral locations, offering more space, greenery and nature. But there’s more: people now search for well-cabled houses and, in general, they need to be suitable for sharing work and daily life.

Telco: the biggest consequences can be summarized as a transition from mobile / low data consumption activities – such as podcasts and streaming music – to others with greater data consumption – such as streaming video and gaming. New consumers listen to fewer podcasts and streaming music, having reduced their commute to work. This indicates a trade-off between mobile services with less data consumption to more “home” services with higher data consumption. This could lead to higher spending on subscriptions to the fixed internet network. This would also lead to an overall increase in the use of the network, which will probably lead operators to increase investments.

Automotive: in this new phase, the automotive market will see the private car as a symbol of the new needs for social distancing. Together with motorcycles and scooters, the personal car offers the safest solution to travel in and out of our cities for anyone who wishes to avoid trains and public transport. This propensity towards private mobility will result in an increase in polluting emissions and traffic, but it could open the way to new sensitivities towards environmental issues, in favor of the use of the electric car.

Online shopping: During the lockdown period, 80% of Italians said they had bought online more than usual, News Microsoft reports. An increasing trend, and not surprisingly, if you think how many more people now work from home: they won’t go out to work, therefore increasing their online purchases. But which sectors are benefiting from this new buying habit? Clothing, electronics and publishing (mainly for books). However, the home becomes the center of attention (and purchases) for new Italian consumers: the sectors that consolidate their online presence are food and furnishings.

Lockdown and smart working have led a renewal in the habits of consumers in our country, guiding them towards a new dimension of consumption. It is important to offer brands all the insights and tools useful for the development of an efficient and current omnichannel strategy, also through the deepening of the different touchpoints and their synergistic relationship and, above all, analyzing the new consumption habits of Italians.

The strength of data into the new normal

In this context, only consumer analysis technologies can help brands, and only if they come from the web and social networks: the insights that can be obtained by real-time opinions of the new consumers are a unique source of information, as it is the only one that can be used to read and to predict new consumer drivers, behavior and purchase patterns.

Tools like KPI6 were already designed to do just that, and we became even more suited during the COVID period, launching new features to better understand the customer. You can use KPI6 to analyze and to understand what’s different and relevant for the people out there, and activate these insights to recover quickly.

Digital consumer intelligence tools are essential for this purpose, as Machine Learning techniques with the power of Social Media Intelligence.

This, of course, allows companies to find a new balance. Consumers changed, but it’s all right, since you now own something that makes this change evident to you and your team. You can adapt and find all the answers you need to reposition, to anticipate and take advantage of new trends, to find a new marketing or sales strategy that works in the new normal, and much more.

In particular, we at KPI6 worked hard to improve some of the most promising features we owned, redesigning them to let our users understand the new consumers. Here you will find a few examples:

 Image recognition: imagine having an Artificial Intelligence that recognizes entities, landscapes, logos, faces and objects for you, both in images and in videos. It’s useful to check what happens when people share products on social media, but above all it enables you to understand what the new purchase scenarios are, the new locations, even the new consumption occasions. Before, the Instagram pictures of your top-selling ice creams had as a background the Colosseum or the most beautiful squares in the world, but now they might show a home desk, the garden or the sofa as a background.

Topics and entities detection: the patterns in language usage and images are useful to detect new topics and new trends, and this is something you want to do, if your task is understanding the new customer.

Interest detection: information such as demographics, interests and personality traits related to specific clusters are important to segment and analyze the real people who generated conversations and who talk about relevant topics every day. In particular, the interest analysis is functional to understand how people’s priorities have changed from the pre to post COVID period, and consequently understand the interests of new consumers.

Therefore, there are solutions that not only analyze the current state of the new normal, but help to anticipate these trends, thus meeting the new consumer. We decided to set up a Consumer Trust Index Observatory which will analyze consumer confidence in a particular industry in the coming months and consequently the consumption habits of Italians.

This is accompanied by a Reputation Index,  to analyze how the brands reacted to this emergency situation and how they were able to stay close to the consumer regardless of social distance. All this with the aim of being a constant support for companies and helping them in their strategic choices.

The “new normal” market is becoming more and more competitive, the Italians will be more careful in their purchases and, in order to emerge, the brands will have to offer the customer a holistic and more personalized experience.

An omnichannel and data-based approach, therefore, becomes essential to be able to oversee all points of interaction and contact with the customer – sales and communication, physical and digital, continuing to always deepen the consumption habits of these new users.

We wanted to have a broad overview of this scenario to open the doors to a series of articles and insights on the “New Normal” consumption era and how industries and brands must interface with these changes.

Would you like to know how a Digital Consumer Intelligence approach can help your Business?

Book a Demo to get a free hands-on demonstration of our platform.