Understanding The Changing Buyer Journey In The COVID Era: How To Adapt Your Content To Meet Their Needs

For the past ten months, humanity has been treading in the unchartered territory of a global pandemic. Whether you are genuinely worried about Covid19 or are skeptical about its actual dimensions, there is one underlying universal truth: COVID has changed our way of being. It has dramatically affected all aspects of our life: social, emotional, and, most importantly, financial.  

The Dawn of A New Era?

As financial uncertainty veils our future, our purchasing habits drastically change to adapt to this new financial crisis. Societal restrictions have already triggered some changes in our purchasing behaviors. As the pandemic’s aftermath leads to payment cuts, layoffs, and income loss, the customer buyer journey will undoubtedly experience changes never before seen.

It is uncertain when and if we will return to our pre-COVID selves. One thing is certain; the post COVID period marks the dawn of a new era for content marketing.

The New Buyer Needs

As COVID continues to spread, people are buying based on three needs: to protect, to entertain, and to connect.

Protect

People are anxious and feel that this is an unsafe world right now. With the impending second – and perhaps worst – wave of COVID hanging above our heads like the sword of Damocles, people need to buy products to protect themselves and their loved ones. They buy medicines, medical gloves and masks, and hand sanitizers. But protection also implies that your basic needs are met, and hence people are stockpiling on canned foods, bottled water, rice, and pasta.

Entertain

Once people have enough food and protection, they feel like they are physically safe. This feeling of safety pushes them to shift to items tailored to entertainment and emotional well-being. Depression rates skyrocketed during the lockdown, and people are well aware of the toll confinement takes on their sanity and emotional state. People will seek to entertain themselves with board games, hobbies, arts and crafts, gardening, cooking, yoga and outdoor activities, etc.  Their needs change, and their purchasing habits follow suit.

Connect

Humans are social creatures, and social distancing has hit us hard. We need to connect with other people, and we seek to find ways to do so, even when lockdown measures are imposed. The only way to connect with others while avoiding actual physical contact is via technology.

People gravitated towards applications that allowed video calls and offered a sense of proximity during isolation. Companies such as Zoom have seen a surge in consumer interest. With online teaching, Microsoft Teams has become an essential tool in all homes, schools, and education settings.

Social connection is a human imperative. We will find ways to connect, even during social distancing. And in doing so, we shift our purchasing habits to meet these new needs. 

The New Buyer Journey

In the past few months, we have witnessed a decline in manufacturing output, a disruption in the supply chains, and dismantling of service businesses. Consumer spending has plummeted, and the consumer buyer’s journey has not only been temporarily disrupted but has entirely morphed.

To understand how the journey has morphed, it is critical to deconstruct the journey and examine its three distinct phases:

1.   The Awareness Stage

During this stage, the buyer realizes they have a problem that needs solving. However, COVID 19 has entirely transformed our problems and has prioritized our needs under a new perspective.

In light of this pandemic, we have seen an increased demand for face masks, hand sanitizers, latex gloves, and, paradoxically, toilet paper. As people were quarantined in their homes, we have also seen an increased demand for DIY products and a turn towards crafts and hobbies. People discovered they had free time in their hands, and as lockdowns were enforced, we have experienced an increased demand for online courses, board games, and video game consoles.  Some decided to turn to outdoor activities, and bicycle sales soared.

2.   The Consideration Stage

During this stage, the buyer defines their problem and starts to research available options to solve the problem. As lockdowns were enforced, the consideration stage was influenced by a single one criterion: is online purchase available? If so, is there a delivery option? And if there is, how soon can I have the products I need?

Needless to say, in this cut-throat competition of the second stage of the buyer’s journey, companies who can offer online services are the winners. It does not matter what sort of marketing strategies they employ. Success during this stage relies on a more logistical matter, and unfortunately, it has nothing to do with brand loyalty.

3.   The Decision Stage

During the final stage of this journey, the buyer decides on the best possible solution. COVID has radically changed this stage since buyers will need to decide in light of the new pandemic effects. A solution to their problem that would have been appropriate in the pre-COVID era may no longer be applicable or, in fact, available.

Adapting Your Content

COVID has dramatically changed our lives and has forced us to walk barefooted and unprepared in unchartered wild terrain. We are headed towards the unknown, and the future appears to be bleak and uncertain. However, what is certain is that your buyer’s journey has changed, and your content needs to adapt to these changes to meet your buyer’s new needs.

What adaptations can you make to your content?

  1. Identify the best, worst and moderate scenarios that could play out during the post COVID era. Identify scenarios from the perspective of the business and its customers. Create content for each scenario and plan accordingly.
  1. Re-establish trust in your brand by creating customer-centric content. Place your buyer at the center of your marketing strategy and show that you not only understand their worries and their concerns but share them as well.
  1. Deliver compelling content. Do not emphasize the uncertainty of times; do not terrorize your buyers into buying your product. Instead, try to deliver light-hearted, uplifting, and encouraging content. We all need someone to tell us that things will turn out just fine, that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Emphasize the positives of the situation and highlight your product as bringing something good in their lives instead of preventing something terrible.
  1. Revisit and re-adjust your buyer personas. Create content that resonates with their new lives. Tailor your marketing strategy towards these personas and invest time and energy in getting in the front lines and finding out what your buyers need from you.

Understanding your buyer’s journey and adapting to their needs is paramount in this post-COVID era. Are you ready to adapt your content marketing strategy to meet these needs?

Which strategies would you consider using?

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