COVID has impacted markets globally. This article assesses consumers’ attitudes and shopping behaviour and looks ahead to post-pandemic trends.

New shopping habits have emerged based on the formula:

(Disease x lockdown x death x bankruptcies)

Consumers have become more focused on factors like price sensitivity, carbon footprint, local business survival, disease protocols (brick and mortar) and online shopping.

Brands supplying and supporting health, hygiene and personal care will continue to grow in demand.

Buying Behavior Changes

With recession-talk plaguing the global markets, consumers are worried about health and its cost, pay cuts, retrenchments, the affordability of basic needs and the loss of financial independence.

Globally, spending has been slashed, and lifestyles have been readjusted to this ‘new normal’.

Personal hygiene, health and socialising parameters are all top of mind for consumers. Lockdowns, stay-at-home and work-from-home strategies have driven consumers to embrace the digital markets faster than previously anticipated.

Although leisure time was moving towards a more digital experience, this shift has accelerated with the need to connect with peers, coworkers and family through an online world. A high level of dependence on digital is predicted to stay long after the pandemic is over.

Online shopping was forced into the lives of the laggards, and they now have first-hand experience of the convenience and ease of online shopping. Brick-and-mortar retailers should not expect to regain full foot count, and they need to focus now more than ever on creating a unique in-person customer experience that is as equally streamlined and efficient as the online experience.

The online sector is far from saturated, and continued growth can be expected.

The hyper-vigilance around hygiene has boosted the pharmaceutical, cleaning products and services industry, with continued growth expected in the middle to long-term.

Sanitisers and hand wash lotions, in various combinations and packaging, will continue to have massive sales and, those companies that have had to diversify and have adapted quickly, are reaping the benefits. There are also related developments like traditional cleaning companies adapting to Deep Cleansing specialists.

Consumer Trust

Digitisation is enabling consumers to monitor the performance of Brands, their ethics and their concern for customers. Alert consumers are watching closely and alerting the market of any failure in this regard.

Businesses that have adapted to the current challenges have captured a piece of the market, e.g. Checkers service Sixty60. Woolworths has taken months and months to get immediate order fulfilment online and Pick N Pay collaborated with the Bottles App. Individual Spar franchises are doing same-day delivery as well as stand-alone brands like Kauai (electric bike deliveries). Checkers has scooped up consumers with 700 000 downloads of their app.

24 hour delivery no longer impresses clients; deliveries will need to be single digit hour values.

Brands that establish trust and meet their consumers’ needs during a time of crisis will benefit materially post-pandemic.

We believe that consumers will be more risk-averse and so will avoid “gaudy” brands or bargain-basement brands. Solid, reliable, value-adding brand behaviour that solves problems for consumers will grow in popularity.

In addition to these criteria, consumers will also judge suppliers on the following factors will include:

  • Conscious consumption,
  • Sustainable supply chains from source to shelf,
  • Traceable supply chains,
  • Fair Trade,
  • Local growers, manufacturers, sellers
  • Toxin and chemical-free,
  • Plastic-positive,
  • Cruelty-free
  • Inclusivity


Post-pandemic reality will only see mild adjustments in consumer behaviour, but the companies that are able to identify and leverage these changes will flourish. By starting to reposition themselves already, businesses can expect to emerge ahead of their competition.

Chat to the Market Instinct team today for market research and market insights on shopping behaviours via consumer surveys and marketing research services.