How the Pandemic Has Impacted Consumer Behavior

We have yet to realize the full impact of the coronavirus crisis, but a few trends have emerged.

Ric Edelman of Edelman Financial Engines told ThinkAdvisor that he doesn’t think the U.S. economy will fully recover from the economic turmoil and historic unemployment levels until a vaccination is widely distributed.

“COVID-19’s impact on the economy has been and will continue to be unprecedented,” Edelman said.

What are some of the ways the crisis is impacting your clients and their behavior?

Heightened anxiety. Job loss and unemployment claims reached unprecedented highs during the coronacrash. As of this writing in early July, we’re seeing a surge of new coronavirus infections. Many clients are worried about their health, the health of their loved ones, jobs, finances, and their future.

Adoption of new habits. We’ve learned to go to the doctor from home with telehealth, conduct all our business at home, have our groceries delivered, and meet with our clients on Zoom or other videoconferencing platforms. These have become a new status quo. Will we go back to in-person meetings, appointments, and experiences? How will this change your firm?

Decreased optimism. According to a recent report from McKinsey & Co., net optimism has declined globally in the past weeks. Consumers anticipate that the pandemic will alter their routines, and they indicate that the pandemic has impacted their finances for four months or more.

Another recent report from PwC suggests that even though we don’t know the long-term effects of the coronavirus crisis, you can do three things to respond to these trends and come back stronger as a business:

Mobilize your response. Improve upon your crisis response and recovery. Put in place a crisis team and craft your communications strategy should another crisis arise. Include how you will deal with both employee and client anxiety.

Make plans for returning to work. Will you go back to the office? Fully sanitize it and have return guidelines in place based on up-to-date data. If your clients are in a high-risk cohort or are uncomfortable having in-person meetings, ensure you continue using their preferred technology. Give staff the option to remain remote.

Strategize beyond the crisis. Research how other senior leaders in the profession are responding. Adjust your strategy based on what your clients are demanding and needing. If this crisis proved you are a remote firm, identify the gaps in your IT structure and fill them. Show empathy to both clients and employees.