Welcome to the first volume of our new Retail Espresso – a series designed to be like little retail espresso shots that you can quickly knock back for a flavour of what’s going on in the world of consumer behaviour. In our first edition, we explore how *not* to handle the challenging times we find ourselves in.

With more people currently on lockdown across the world than were even alive during World War II, there have naturally been some interesting shifts in human behaviour.

We’ve been spending more on comfort food than usual, buying more loungewear and athleisure (likely to accommodate aforementioned comfort food trend) and conversely – with The Joneses seemingly locked up inside too – sales in luxury goods have also taken a pretty big hit.

On the stranger side of things, less-expected behavioural trends have included a spike of divorces in China, pretty average 2011 movie Contagion drastically rising in popularity on Netflix and – both hilariously and bizarrely – Coronavirus-themed adult videos becoming one of the most popular genres on the web.

(Apologies for missing that one off our 2020 Trends Report…)

With a global recession and second wave of consumer behvioural shifts likely to come, many brands are now asking themselves: “What is the best way to navigate a crisis?”

The cartoon at the top of this piece, of course, gives a strong clue to the answer.

The brands that have succeeded in all of this have been the ones who have calmly paused amidst the chaos to ask: “What can we do to make our audience’s experience of this situation better?”

UberFord and Dyson are great examples of this, innovating quickly to improve their audience’s day-to-day experience of life.

Conversely, brands who have opted for promotional activities like new product drops, “We’re all in this together” emails and spaced out social distancing logos have been less than well received.

So how should brands behave?

When human emotional states get shifted, actions speak louder than words.

The way to handle a shift in human behaviour then is to review your audience’s new emotional state, behaviours and day-to-day routines, finding ways your brand can improve their experience of the new normal to match.

In a world of comfort food eating, tracksuit wearing, stuck-at-home humans, your brand can be the Reeses to their pieces, the Netflix to their Chill, the M to their M.

However you want to put it: a strategy focused on improving people’s lives will position you as the company that makes your audience’s experience of the world a more positive one.

Focusing on experience and emotion instead of promotion is – in our humble opinion – the best way to ensure your brand thrives through any tough time and beyond.

In Volume 2, we will explore what consumer behaviour is likely to look like after Coronavirus. In the meantime, why not check out our latest report on what Gen Z Shoppers really want from a brand experience?

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