The global pandemic is far from over, but consumers are ready to move on


After two years of acute economic and social instability, it’s still too soon to say that the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us. While some countries have brought the virus under control, in others infection levels remain high. And there’s always the risk of dangerous new variants emerging. Even so, it does finally look like consumers around the world are starting to move on.
People throughout history have bounced back from era-defining events like plagues, wars and natural catastrophes. First there’s a shock that has to be survived. Then there’s a period of crisis that has to be endured. Finally, there’s a rebound – changed by the events they’ve experienced, people try to create a new life for themselves, and a better world for future generations.

We’re entering that third phase now. Our eighth EY Future Consumer Index suggests consumers have come to expect this kind of uncertainty and disruption; there’s nothing the pandemic can throw at them that they’ve not already seen. They want to make consumption choices that are born from aspiration rather than necessity. They want to stop reacting to events and start actively creating a normal life again. They care less about affordability and their own health, more about quality of experience and the future of the planet. Our research identifies three underlying considerations that consumers will have front-of-mind as they shape their new version of normal:

  • Risk and threat have become everyday concerns.
  • People value quality more – of product, experience and time.
  • Digital is becoming life’s default channel.

For consumer products companies and retailers, this is a key chapter in the COVID-19 story. Will your business rebound too? Can you reimagine your strategies for long-term value creation, aligning your purpose and portfolio around the consumer’s emerging post-pandemic priorities? This is an opportunity to become a relevant partner in the consumer’s effort to shape a new life. For many, this will require a profound transformation. Here are four actions to consider:

  1. Analyse your festive sales season data with a different lens.
  2. Invest in the data and technologies that can make you a trusted part of the consumer’s life.
  3. Make it easy for people to move back and forth between physical and digital channels.
  4. Transform your business model for an age where people want to consume better, not buy more.

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