A Glance Forward – The World After Coronavirus: Part 3 – Consumption After The Crisis

How will the near future look like? In how far will the Covid-19 pandemic affect our ways of living, working and interacting? In our new blog-series “A Glance Forward – The World After Coronavirus” we will deal with possible consequences and opportunities that may appear in the future. In this third post, we want to provide an overview about how consumption might look like after overcoming the pandemic.
Mindful Consumption and Solidarity

In the view of the disruptive effects that the corona virus has had on society, the economy and culture, it seems unlikely that the post-crisis period will be marked by a “now-or-never” mentality. Rather, the crisis experience has unleashed a deep need for more conscious, social enjoyment – not at the expense of others, but in common with others. This new focus is an expression of a return to what really counts and what is important to you.

This does not mean that post-Corona consumption will express itself in a radical minimalism – but in the recognition that a pleasurable, fulfilled life does not depend on the number of consumer goods one owns or uses. Consumption for the sake of consumption will therefore fade into the background in the future. The Corona crisis freed consumption from its compensatory component to a certain extent: The function of the act of purchase as a kind of frustration, which one primarily practices to feel less lonely or to reward oneself, is increasingly becoming a phase-out model.

This is also due to the fact that in the time of the crisis a new level of solidarity developed, a new self-confident “we-culture”. People helped each other, went shopping for at-risk groups, sang and played music from their balconies and windows while in lockdown and made face masks on sewing machines at home. Companies produced disinfectants instead of alcoholic drinks or perfumes, made their IT solutions available to the general public and opened their source codes and networks. Everyone made a contribution, no matter how big or small, in order to make the situation more pleasant. The initial restrictions obliged people to show mutual consideration. The Corona crisis made it unmistakably clear that people are not alone in the fight against the virus and its consequences, but as part of a group, as part of society.

An Era of new Ecosystems

Even before the Corona crisis, the competition online versus offline had largely dissolved, as it had long since become clear that the interdependencies are highly complex and that either-or-thinking makes no sense at all. This process was strongly driven by the Corona crisis. After the crisis, we will therefore see more and more vital ecosystems in which the various players, small and large, local and global, cross-sector and closely networked, work together – even with supposed competitors.

This will also mean an upswing for all possible forms of community concepts, for example shops that not only sell goods, but are also event venues, repair workshops or co-working spaces. After the crisis, hybrid concepts that combine sales and experience locations and with new office concepts will increasingly be found everywhere. As the crisis has made it clear that hybrid concepts are more resilient, industry segments such as retail, gastronomy, event and office will increasingly merge. At the same time, the goodwill between them will grow: People appreciate and recommend each other.

Social Distancing as Trigger for new Consumer Behavior

The crisis fueled the trend towards contactless payments without having to hand over cash or swipe a card. Even before the crisis, there were already plenty of innovative concepts and solutions for making payments on the fly – in the future they will become more and more a part of everyday life. Even in countries such as Austria or Germany where people love to carry cash.

Technological innovations, automatization, Artificial Intelligence and digital tools have been showing their strengths during the crisis. They did not distance people from each other, but helped us to stay close to each other even over the distance – and to organize our consumption too. Supply chains have been optimized, click & collect saved us time when shopping, and bicycle couriers will continue to ensure local and fast last mile delivery.

Small shops and service providers in particular were able to use digital tools to create a new proximity to their customers. It became clear that it is often only about the most basic function of action – chatting as social interaction. After the Corona crisis, technology will be understood even more as a lever for human encounters.

Building Relationships is the Key

In a crisis, the true character of people and companies is revealed. After the Corona crisis, it will be more important than ever for companies to get close to their customers and consumers and to enter into dialogue with them – also with the help of technological and digital solutions that were developed in the context of the crisis and must now be implemented sustainably. Even during the crisis, the signal was decisive: We are here for you, we will go through these hard times together – and we will be by your side even after the crisis is over. This promise must now be kept. After the pandemic, it will be crucial for manufacturers and brands to continue to play an important role as important pillars of society and make a real contribution to society.

The Corona crisis suddenly accelerates a trend that has been going on for years and is turning the markets of the future into more meaningful markets: purpose and resonance are increasingly becoming the new brand currency. Strong brands will form anchor points in a volatile world by providing orientation and making real resonance relationships tangible. More than ever, the focus will be on creating purpose, integrity and responsibility as well as addressing current social issues. Brands will see themselves more and more as “value creators” who are connected to people through shared sets of meaning and values. Touch Points will become Trust Points.

While the old brand world was strongly oriented towards the individual, collective identities are becoming increasingly relevant after the pandemic. Those brands which know how to bind people to brand collectives and build as well as activate communities around shared values and interests will be successful. All in all, brands are thus given a new task and a new purpose: they are no longer just part of the new, but an active driver of it. In the economy of meaning and enabling, brands themselves are becoming facilitators and constructive agents of social change, making social concerns tangible and tangible for consumers. Brands that face up to this new responsibility as enablers will be more powerful than ever in the post-Corona economy.

Links to the other Parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 4

Source: Janine Seitz, 2020, Zukunftsinstitut

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