2020 was a year like no other in recent memory. The COVID-19 pandemic is certainly a time that most of us will wish to put behind us and not speak of again, but it would be impossible to move forward without first acknowledging the accelerating and life-altering impact it has had on consumer trends and behaviour.
Digital trends in particular have rapidly accelerated since the start of the pandemic, during which time both businesses and customers adapted to a changing world in which interactions between the two groups became steadily and necessarily dependant on online-based communications and engagement. Even as markets endeavour to return to the ‘old normal’, the new reality is that things won’t go back to the way they were before.
No industry today is serving customers unaffected by the shift in consumer experience and expectations. Your customer is also a customer to other leading brands and has been conditioned to expect extraordinary and personalised interactions when buying a product or a service.
These mega brands excel at putting the customer in the middle of a highly attentive, finely crafted customer experience programme that often makes headlines on social media. What’s more, they’ve excelled at delivering great experiences through digital platforms during the pandemic.
These changes have impacted the real estate industry no less than any other, if not more so; because buying a house remains one of the most high-value, and therefore deeply emotional buying decisions that any consumer will make in their lifetime. It is therefore not surprising that by the time a customer walks into your office to make one of the largest and most impactful decisions of their year (whether that is buying, selling, or renting a home) they are expecting a simply outstanding customer experience, especially as the stakes are so much higher.
“Consumers’ attention has shifted as the internet has swept in to help us manage our lives more effectively, and their behaviors have shifted too.” Connecting the Dots 2021 – GWI
The state of consumer behaviour today
How do you attract, engage, and retain the consumer of the future?The process begins with understanding who your customers are and what they are looking for. Whether you are in sales, lettings, or both, understanding what your customers are looking for is an essential requirement to give them the best experience possible. What does the consumer profile look like?
Consumer behaviour tends to change with time and rarely remains static over the course of a lifetime – this is particularly true when it comes to property, as requirements, desires, and affordability are all elements that evolve as the customer gets older. Understanding what drives each of the generations should underpin any strategy to attract, engage and retain customers: what they value most, and what their buying behaviour looks like during a high value, high-risk purchasing decision.
In addition, major events in the macro environment (wars, recessions, pandemics) profoundly influence consumer behaviour and the COVID-19 pandemic was no exception, driving behaviour changes almost instantly across all generations as each generation faced the same restrictions. Being digitally minded was no longer the domain of ‘young people’ only, because in an isolated environment everyone learned to rely on digital means for everyday life to carry on: whether that was to connect, shop, work, learn, exercise and be entertained.
So, the question is no longer merely understanding what each generation wants, but also what that looks like following the life-altering impact of COVID-19.
Reapit’s latest report – The Consumer (R)evolution: how to attract, engage, and retain the 2021 consumer – explores the state of consumer behaviour today, looking in detail at how customer expectations and engagement preferences have evolved since 2020 uprooted conventional trends and accelerated new ones.
Agents relying on traditional approaches to reach and serve customers may find that what worked before does not work as well now. In this new housing market era, understanding who (and what) the revolutionised consumer is will help property industry professionals be prepared for the consumer of the future.
Interested in more insights on how consumers have changed? Download your free copy of Reapit’s newest report on the Consumer (R)evolution: how to attract, engage and retain the 2021 consumer.