Just as it promises to forever change the way we work or communicate, the Covid-19 pandemic will also definitively reconfigure how we consume. And it will not only be for economic reasons: it will accelerate and partially transform cultural trends in the way of acquiring goods and services that were already developing.
That reading is made by Oscar Piccardo, consumer specialist and advisor, from his consultant 1Por1 Integrated Marketing, of major brands of retail in Argentina and in countries of the region.
Although he clarifies that the virus is a revolution in process whose impacts cannot yet be clearly predicted, Piccardo is encouraged, through a video call, whose video will be available on the La Voz website, to trace various hypotheses in the midst of uncertainty.
“There is not‘ one ’type of consumer and less at a time of such confusion, but we can say that in general, consumers today are confined, in a state of greater awareness of their spending decisions. With worry and future stress. This behavior, much more rational and conservative, is going to last an important time ”, he anticipates.
-What does that mean?
–Buy what is necessary for the immediate and postpone any purchase decision that may be deferred, without significantly affecting life. Furthermore, purchasing power in general is going to be affected by the lower availability of money. Everything will fuel a reduction in demand as a whole.
–In the medium term there are two readings. One says that the pandemic is a total paradigm shift that will make us consume less in the future. Another, which can hardly, the consumer will buy again as before, thinking of restoring the lost standard of living. Which one do you adhere to?
“I wish the second happens.” But, if we rely on that hypothesis and do not prepare for the first one, there are likely to be unforeseen situations. What is happening is something so big that I think the word transformation is too small. We are living a true revolution.
– Worse than in 2001?
–It is absolutely different. It is a mistake to believe that this is 2001-2002. At that time, the consumer entered a situation of not being able to buy due to not having money, but he had not lost his desire to consume, his buying habit was not changing. For this reason, as soon as he regained his purchasing power, he returned to buying the brands and products that existed. At that time there was only one major economic crisis.
–Today we have crisis and …
–We have crisis, we don’t know for how long. And in addition, we came from a very large process of transformation of habits, with trends that are going to accelerate, such as the incorporation of technology into our lives. Others can be modified, such as the strong orientation to the consumption of the immediate, to the present well-being and to the enjoyment that the new generations had. Perhaps now they return to that consumption in a more rational way, and with some idea of foresight, since in this context they have seen that you cannot live in the world without some foresight, without some kind of savings.
–What will happen in the “shopping malls” when they open?
–This 2020, the slogan for business in general should be not to die, survive this. The return to activity will be one of survival. There will be two situations: those activities in which consumption cannot be restored quickly even with precautions and others that offer goods whose purchase can be postponed for some time (clothing, furniture, for example). The latter will need to make cash and that is why I think we will see a period of very strong fairs and liquidations, with prices that may be lower than usual, since they will all go out at the same time to liquidate. It will be a very hard time for commerce, but the consumer who has purchasing power will be able to take advantage of it.
–It will be hard for businesses to continue in a “shopping” …
–The shopping centers are going to have to help a lot to the commerce. In 2001 they already did. Without that support, trade is simply not viable. It is not enough to reduce the expenses of expenses, rents and others. They have to help them sell, because with zero sale any expense is expensive. Sustaining your business and thinking about how to quickly return the influx of public is your great challenge.
–Here the “shopping malls” were already walking to have more space in the open air, to add entertainment. Will it accelerate?
– Those transformations are going to accelerate. But fundamentally that of the commercial mix, which is more urgent and does not require investment. The shopping malls They must start analyzing what the new mix is, where the new consumption that people will be looking for will be. There was a very strong transformation trend towards social centers, or social centers, which are going to accelerate. And the purchase of supplies will give them more to the meeting and to other types of services.
The original text of this article was published on 05/04/2020 in our printed edition.