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Corona changes a lot – even consumption

Since February 2020, nothing has been the same. The notorious virus is spreading rapidly and repeatedly brings public life to a standstill. How this affects people, values and (consumer) behaviour is the subject of numerous studies.

May 03 2021

The pandemic has had a stranglehold on life for more than a year. Nothing seems to be predictable any more, although so much data is being collected and opinions are being sought as rarely before. Some of them are worth reading and paying attention to, even if their shelf life seems to expire with the next incidence value. After all, many studies give hope that we as individuals, society and economy will grow sustainably from the crisis, that our values will change and enable ways for a better economy and advertising – also for furniture companies. 

It's human – more than ever  

It is amazing how people come together in times of crisis. At the beginning of the pandemic, in the early 2020s, this was not only felt, but measurable. Social cohesion in Germany was enormous and months later still proved to be very robust, as the Bertelsmann Foundation noted in its "Radar of Social Cohesion 2020". 

The Bertelsmann marketing alliance Ad Alliance examined this cohesion from an economic perspective in the study "The Future after Corona" and found that the second lockdown has even strengthened this trend and led to a change in values in Germany that puts community and sustainability in the foreground: "A high income and professional success are still important, but have become less important for 14 and 21 percent of respondents, respectively. On the other hand, awareness and relevance for environmental protection (20 %) and the desire to help people in need (18 %) have increased and become more important." 

Leisure and consumer behaviour has also changed with the crisis, Ad Alliance notes: "According to this, the values of joie de vivre, enjoyment and fun will play a stronger role than before. This can be seen, for example, in the positive assessments of catching up on product purchases and travel as soon as possible." However, the anticipation of consumption in the near future will not push serious issues into the background. The majority of respondents said that in the future they will prefer brands that show social commitment (62 percent), attitude (56 percent) and responsibility for society (54 percent) even more. 

Companies should make use of these findings, advises Karin Immenroth, Chief Data & Analytics Officer of the Ad Alliance study: "Already now, brands can make important adjustments and set the course for changing communication requirements during and after the pandemic. Across many sectors, there is a tendency to reconcile enjoyment and joie de vivre with the aspects of responsibility and safety." Furniture companies can take up this economically and socially welcome change in values, do business responsibly, communicate about it in a way that is as life-affirming as it is joyful, and give their brand a green, good and distinctive profile. 

More and more people care about protecting the environment. © Shane Rounce/unsplash

Sociability and honesty pay off  

The desire for more honesty, transparency and community is also confirmed by the trend research company Trendbüro. Every year, the Munich-based consultancy collects data on the discussion of values on the German-language internet and analyses more than three million social media posts for this purpose. Their conclusion for 2020: There is a strong longing for community, transparency and, of course, health. The topics of family, freedom, success, security, nature and honesty are among the most important on the net. 

Keeping these values and desires of consumers in mind is particularly worthwhile for furniture companies. According to Ad Alliance, every third person did not make major purchases during the pandemic and wants to make up for it as soon as possible. Mobile phones, furniture, cars, household appliances and consumer electronics are at the top of the list of purchases to be made up for, the consumer researchers found out. 

And also that more than half of the respondents are willing to spend more money on high-quality and sustainably produced products. From this, many respondents also derive a high expectation of the friendliness and competence of salespeople and advisors. This is an adjustment screw that furniture companies can easily turn in order to win new customers or to keep their regular customers.  

Desire for sustainability grows in times of crisis  

In line with the longing for cohesion and security, there is also a growing desire for a healthy environment and humanity – in short: for sustainability. In summer 2020, the Federal Statistical Office of Germany and the consulting firm McKinsey showed in a survey that about one third of the respondents want to consume more mindfully. Sustainability is to play just as big a role as the quality and price of consumer goods. 

The current GIK Report Sustainability not only confirms this trend, the report proves that it has intensified during the Corona crisis. The communication researchers state that "the 'sustainable' motifs of retail companies perform better across all advertising impact indicators than the average of retail motifs in the comparison period, presumably because the sustainability motifs hit the nerve of the times particularly well. The sustainable creations score particularly well in terms of likeability, appeal and informational character. Particularly surprising: the activation performance of the sustainable motifs is also higher than the average of the (partly sales-oriented) retail motifs: 42.8 percent compared to 38.2 percent." 

Our conclusion for furniture companies: If you manage your business sustainably, bring the information about it confidently and transparently into your communication and advertising in a way that is comprehensible to all. If you want to take the path to sustainable business practices, we have summarised practical tips for you in the article "The green furniture industry". The step towards "Do good and talk about it" will be worthwhile for you. Not only because it gives us hope for better, safer times in a serious crisis, but also because nature and the environment, people and the economy will benefit from it.  

Author: Christine Sommer-Guist

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