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COVID-19 likely to stay longer, forces businesses to refocus

COVID-19 likely to stay longer, forces businesses to refocus 

Organizations and businesses will have to refocus their goals as the pandemic will most likely be long-term, bringing about what they call the “decade of the home” and forcing companies to craft their products and services to drive more local experience, according to a recent worldwide survey by Accenture.

With the on-going discomfort in public spaces and traveling, as well as financial instability, people will most likely decide to stay at home. 

Below are the key findings in the Accenture reports:

  • 70 per cent of Canadian who were surveyed expect to socialize over the next six months either in their home, a friend’s home or virtually;
  • 52 per cent of Canadian respondents who never worked remotely previously now plan to do so more often;
  • 54 per cent of Canadian consumers said that due to COVID-19, they now shop in stores within the vicinity, with three-quarters of those respondents (75 per cent) saying they plan to continue to do so long-term;
  • 54 per cent of Canadians said they’re purchasing more locally made products, with 86 per cent of those saying they plan to continue to do so long-term;
  • Half of Canadian consumers (51 per cent) said that financial stability is one of their top three concerns over the next six months;
  • 44 per cent of Canadian respondents indicated their buying behaviour has become more cost-conscious and are likely to continue doing so — with consumers overall far more likely to buy mid-range and budget products and reduce purchases of premium brands.
  • Lastly, 11 per cent of Canadian respondents said they have increased premium purchases, with 28 per cent of those falling outside the high-income bracket.

“Home is now the new frontier — it’s become the workplace, the schoolroom, the place to try new hobbies, the place to socialize and a safe sanctuary — so companies must account for this reality,” said Robin Sahota, Managing Director at Accenture who leads its Retail practice in Canada. 

The data also showed that some businesses are already gaining rewards by adjusting their offerings to meet the needs of their consumers. However, there is still word of caution as these opportunities still need careful analysis to see which of the common consumer behaviors will be permanent or just temporary.

“Companies must boost their analytics capabilities to understand the pandemic’s impact on their businesses at a local level — tracking its effect on local businesses and employment and people’s level of comfort in returning to pre-COVID activities,” said Kelly Askew, a managing director with Accenture Strategy. 

Another common trend seen in these Accenture reports is the increased behaviour in e-commerce usage since the start of the pandemic. This is seen to remain and accelerate further. An example of this is that those who used online channels for less than 25 per cent of their purchases before the pandemic has now increased by 176 per cent since the COVID-19 outbreak.

Lastly, the data also found that customers with increased usage of digital services like contactless payment and digital customer service channels like websites or mobile apps expect to sustain an increasing level of usage.

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