The Great Mindset Shift: What’s Driving Buying Values Post-Pandemic?

New research shows that what we knew about 88% of consumers is no longer reflective of who they are now. For CEOs, this could be a worry—or a tremendous opportunity.

Transformation has been the watchword of these past 18 months. That’s no surprise given that we’ve lived through a period in history during which the structure of everything we experience has changed.

That’s the thing about this particular kind of transformation—it isn’t polite or respectful, and it seems to have intertwined itself into everything we do without an end in sight. Almost everything is open for reimagination, be it how we work, how we shop or how we build our relationships (both professional and personal). As a result, it’s a guarantee that your customers’ values and motivations will have been caught up in the tide of transformation.

The question, then, is which of these new values are going to stick through the long-term? To find out, we ran a global survey which revealed something fascinating.

At the highest level, the research showed that what we knew about 88% of consumers is no longer reflective of who they are now. Furthermore, over half of all consumers polled had revaluated what matters to them over the course of the pandemic. We call this majority ‘the Reimagined’ and, most crucially of all, this demographic continues to grow.

When it comes to business growth and brand relevance, this could be a worry. But, it’s also an unprecedented opportunity. Let’s discuss how.

The Practical Steps

Taken holistically, the forces which drive purchasing decisions in 2021 are separate but linked by a common thread. Rather than a desire for material gain or personal status, we must recognize that the modern consumer’s aspiration is increasingly underpinned by a more ethical and holistic sense of their place in the world.

Sixty-three percent of Reimagined consumers say it is ‘crucial’ for brands to actively promote healthy practices, and 65% of them want to do business with companies who invest in sustainability. Business leaders must reflect on these statistics: taken together, they paint a clear picture of a future-fit approach to commerce. To deliver the experiences necessary for this new consumer mindset, there are several steps the C-Suite can take to act now: 

• Reacquaint yourself with your consumer. It’s fundamentally important for brands to understand consumer expectations—what excites and delights them, and what values they hold dear. C-Suites should drive transformation by becoming a listening organization and investing continuously to understand how people view your company.

• Take your people with you. Your listening should start at home, with your own employees. There’s no one who knows your brand better, and their buy-in to any change in direction will be integral. Take Best Buy, for example. The retail giant has successfully improved trust through free in-home consultations to determine which products are most suitable for an individual’s circumstances, with sustainability as a factor. That initiative was spearheaded by employees on the ground who bought into the offering.

• Recognize your business is one big experience. All aspects of operations—marketing, sales, innovation, R&D and customer service—impact the experiences each company delivers. Everyone across the organization needs to not just understand these new consumer motivations, but they need to integrate them into how each of the functions go about doing their day-to-day roles.

What’s Behind These Changes?

Part of reacquainting yourself with your customers post-pandemic is understanding precisely why their mindset has changed.

Previously, our interpretation of buying motivations could generally be boiled down to two key components: price and quality. But the modern consumer is more nuanced.

Our research has identified a number of new motivators that are increasingly driving purchase decisions. Of these, three directly speak to a new attitude that is swiftly becoming the dominant force in the modern consumer mindset including:

• Health and safety. Interestingly, 71% of Reimagined consumers said that brands were just as, if not more, responsible for public health as the government. In the travel sector, 68% said they would switch brands if health and safety were ‘lacking’.

• Product origin. In one of the major recurring themes from our research, a whopping 76% of the Reimagined say they are ‘attracted’ to doing business with brands that source services and materials in highly ethical ways. That’s compared to 52% (still a majority) of non-Reimagined, or ‘traditional’ consumers.

• Trust and reputation. Across eight separate industries, a majority of Reimagined consumers said they would switch brands if their current provider was not ‘visibly’ taking steps to ensure ‘a positive societal impact.’

These are the forces which are increasingly driving your customers’ purchasing decisions and there are rewards waiting for the businesses who recognize and engage with them. In fact, Accenture’s research shows that businesses that identify and act upon trends such as these grow their profitability year-on-year by at least six times over their industry peers.

The bottom line is that what has been true in the past is not necessarily a reliable indicator of the future. A new consumer mindset is already here, and the successful businesses of the future will start catering to it today.