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The economy has certainly shifted since the onset of the pandemic, changing business trends as we know it. Question is, what does the future holds for us consumers?

There is no doubt about the large-scale impact of the COVID-19 outbreak across industries. With business closures and permanent company shutdowns, the economy, families, and individuals are bearing the brunt of the collateral damage of the global healthcare crisis. The ongoing quarantine in the country has compelled many Filipinos to take digital means to survive, shop, and connect. As consumers, our habits are gradually evolving as we adapt to this fast-changing environment. More than ever, the pandemic is driving us to be aware of our consumer habits, re-evaluate our values, and be more discerning about the brands we support. Here’s what is happening so far.

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A Black Lives Matter march in central London on June 20, 2020. (Photo from Daniel Leal-Olivas of Getty)

Brand awareness

Our constant online presence sparked increased awareness of social issues like human rights violations. From the #BlackLivesMatter movement to the ad boycott on Facebook, we have become mindful of local and international events. Remember #PullUporShutUp? It was another online campaign challenging beauty brands to disclose the racial profiles of their employees. Stemming from the #BlackLivesMatter movement, it aimed to expose the blatant racism across industries. The boycott of Goya foods was a more recent matter, provoking such activism when the company’s CEO showed support for U.S. President Donald Trump who promotes hateful rhetoric and action towards ethnicities, religions, minorities, and various groups.

Given all these movements emerging for the past months, it is clear people are becoming conscious of which companies to support. These groups have power and influence, especially over consumers. So, when we associate ourselves with a brand, we believe and stand by its principles as well. Now, more than ever, it is crucial to hold accountability and share a sense of responsibility, especially over social issues. When we support brands, we like not only their products and service but also how they use their voice and influence for good.

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(Photo from Austin Distel)

Growth of e-commerce

Visiting public spaces like malls, parks, and resorts remains a huge risk to anyone. So, being bound by the safety of our homes and having much time in our hands, we tend to search for new products to try. Be it groceries, apparel, or entertainment, we are contributing to the explosive growth of e-commerce for the past few months. The longer the quarantine lasts, the more our consumer behavior changes. We focus now not only on the quality and price of products but most importantly the availability. Many brands and stores have closed down. So, we are left to browse through other destinations where our needs and wants can be met. The good thing here is we encounter new and small-time businesses along the way, and eventually support them.

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(Photo from Tim Mossholder and Kelly Sikkema)

Shop local

Accompanying the sudden rise of e-commerce, more Filipinos have started their own businesses as well. From baking brownies to cheesecakes, more individuals tried their hand at entrepreneurship over the quarantine period. With work-from-home policies and a lack of exposure to traditional ads, we rely on word-of-mouth in learning about new, local businesses. Patronizing these small businesses always starts within one’s neighborhood or online community. With families and friends facing forced leaves, no work, no pay policies, and layoffs, it became crucial to show support for their businesses. As owners, they have to respond to the needs of their consumers at this time too. Every business must address concerns while keeping in mind their brand values.

Lampshade plastic shield of Christophe Gernigon in H.A.N.D resto, Paris. (Photo from Alain Jocard of Getty)

Prioritizing health and safety

While there is still no effective vaccine against the coronavirus, our immune system is working overtime to protect us against the virus. To boost our immunity, we do everything we can—from eating nutrient-dense food, working out, getting enough sleep, and sunlight, to managing daily stress. Coupled with the closure of our favorite restaurants, we are left with cooking our own meals, thus becoming highly selective of where we source our ingredients, bearing in mind to choose the freshest produce from these shops. We tend to be cautious even when we purchase from online shops for our premium groceries. Since we are vulnerable to the virus, food preparation is the primary focus now, ensuring that we follow strict health protocols. Safety has become embedded in our lifestyle, certainly becoming a constant in our new normal.

Restaurant in Siam Paragon, Thailand. (Photo from Lauren DeCicca)

All these consumer habits continue to develop over time as we battle through the pandemic. Our consumption culture now is telling us we are capable of raising awareness and taking action, especially over social matters. It is highly crucial to realign brand values and understand what people need and regard these as standards across all businesses.

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