Consumer Psychology In A Reopening Economy

Consumer Psychology In A Reopening Economy

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By: Dr. David Bridwell, People Scientist

There are a lot of things to think about while we’re slowly and safely reopening businesses. Many customers are adjusting to new ways of engaging with businesses and having to think about things that they haven’t had to think about before: Do I need to wear a mask? Are the employees wearing masks? Does the business have hand sanitizer? Are they doing a deep cleaning? Did their hours change? Will they have the products that I expect? Will they have new products? Will there be a line to get in? Do I need to make an appointment or reservation?

These uncertainties create a big hurdle between the customer and products or services, so it’s important for businesses to think about how they can quickly provide answers to these questions for their customers. Of course, marketing can play an important role in communicating this information efficiently. 

Walgreens provides an example of a social media advertisement that quickly conveys some of the changes customers can expect from the store. The image communicates six different measures that the store has taken to help customers feel safer entering the store. They don’t waste space with overly complicated images or additional text that is not necessary.

Other companies are also turning to social media to explain to their customers the precautions that they’re taking as they reopen. McDonald’s in the Philippines, for example, recorded a video outlining all the steps that they would take to keep their workers and their customers safe. Importantly, they helped reassure customers that they would close down if there was any indication that customer or employee safety was compromised. 

Children’s Wisconsin Hospital is going live on Facebook to answer any questions that potential patients might have about visiting the emergency room. In one of their live videos, they clarify to potential patients that they are still open, which is an important thing to remind patients of when everything seems to be changing so rapidly. Reminding people that you are open also conveys strength and dependability for the customer. They also clarify that they do daily screening of their staff, and that they are using more PPE. They tell the customer what to expect. 

These examples consist of authentic verbal descriptions of what to expect from a business. But, it’s important to remember “show, don’t tell.” Showing people how your store operates can convey information quicker than telling them. One example comes from a local store that allows people to call in and pick up products without leaving their vehicles. The business took drone footage of their parking lot and the cars passing through, which quickly tells customers how they can get in line and how their items will be delivered when they visit the store. 

Another question that customers have is whether they can expect a line to enter the store, or if their pickup will be ready when they get there. Companies should think about how they can use social media or text messages to give customers a sense of the wait times for their products. Making appointments or taking reservations can help businesses avoid unexpected wait times.

Moving forward, we cannot expect a business as usual approach. There are many changes in the way the market is now operating from shifts in consumer demand, product availability and distribution challenges, product packaging and messaging, and more.  It is reasonable to expect that there will be some uncertainty moving forward, but if you can communicate this uncertainty to potential customers, then it will make this experience a little less difficult. 

To learn more about the psychology of reopening, and how psychology marketing can help brands survive, join our upcoming webinar “Survive to Thrive: Psychology of Marketing in a Reopening Economy”.