How Consumer Behaviour Has Changed During Covid-19

Google recently shared a guest post from The Behavioural Architects who wrote about the ‘messy middle’ of purchasing where people are trying to make sense out of all the information available to understand what they should buy.

This confusing period for shoppers has been made more evident due to the increase in people choosing — or having to in many cases — shop online instead of visiting the shops.

Decision-making during Covid

The pandemic has messed with our routines and turned a lot of lives upside down. More time is being spent online than ever before, and more information is being consumed — sometimes a necessity such as learning more about Covid.

A small list of these changes from Google:

Bringing this back to purchasing, a large chunk would be in person browsing the endless array of gifts in the hope of finding something remotely suitable for Aunt Violet, while choosing to forget just how many others you still need to buy for.

Having to spend far more time online means there’s more choice in what you buy, and where you buy from. Getting these right takes time wading through all of the possible websites.

With so much uncertainty in the world and abundance of choice online, consumers need more help with the messy middle of decision-making

The result is that everyone needs to make new decisions, and even familiar — seemingly insignificant ones — have been subject to fear of scarcity where decision-making has been sped up. We all remember toilet roll-gate.

Decisions for other products and services have become harder, slowed down, or even stopped completely where we’re now assessing whether we need it at the moment.

With an unprecedented level of uncertainty worldwide, those websites that help visitors make decisions will come out on top.

Read on to learn how to actually help them with these decisions on your website which will ultimately increase sales.

Exposure and communication matter now more than ever

With increased ‘noise’ of more activity online, businesses need to not only be more present but also communicate their values.

With so much widespread suffering, empathy needs to be shown and communicated to resonate with many heightened emotions.

When you do write your messaging in advertising, social media, email newsletters, etc., do so succinctly — consumers have less ‘bandwidth’ available these days, so it will need to cut through that noise even more than it had to before.

How to help your website visitors

During this time of incredible disruption, there are six keys actions you can make right now to help visitors and increase your bottom line.

1. Social proof

Have you ever checked ratings or reviews before purchasing? They can be a powerful influence that sways someone to purchase or look elsewhere.

With so much choice around, buyers are looking to others for reassurance that what they’re looking at is worth it.

Remind customers to review their purchase with automated emails and make it easy for them to do so.

Also, keep an eye out for what people are saying about your products or services to use this on your website — ’embedding’ the Tweet for example.

2. Authority

Searches are not just happening for health advice, people are looking for credible sources to understand whether now is the right time for a particular purchase, and if so, which one — they want to be more careful with their money.

If you haven’t done so already, find those credible sources in your industry to partner with for guest posts on their blog, advertising, or any other means. Simply being an active member of their community also helps as you can advise in the comments to become a credible source of information yourself.

To find out where your audience is hanging out, visit Sparktoro and search for a word or phrase that they may use. It’s free to search, but if you can, a paid plan will give far more information.

You’ll also need to stay up-to-date with government advice and restrictions to make sure that your messaging doesn’t conflict with theirs.

#3 Category heuristics

Category heuristics are being used subconsciously in a big way during a pandemic. This is the bias towards a certain category of products or set of features; think ‘organic’ or ‘gluten-free’ when some make choices on food.

Another example was travel companies providing extra flexibility with cancellations.

With more to think about in our daily lives, we’re drawn to certain words more than we were before.

This promotes the need to showcase the main benefits for all businesses. What can you say about your products that will really resonate with your audience? Do you need to add a new feature, or just make the existing ones more obvious?

#4 The power of free

Everyone like the word ‘free’. Sometimes, it can be attached to something of lesser quality, but the word still resonates with most.

At a time of financial hardship for so many people, this word now means more than ever.

Use this word to encourage sales and do your part to help out, but use it wisely to make sure it’s relevant in the current climate and doesn’t hit the wrong tone.

#5 Use scarcity, scarcely

Usually, scarcity is great for greasing the wheels of hesitation to avoid major FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).

However, we’ve all seen our fair share of scarcity (toilet roll, flour, pasta) which has tainted the word and tactic — it’s more widely used in supermarkets to now ensure everyone has a chance to buy what they need.

Using it as a sales tactic can look crass and could do more harm than good if you’re not careful. There is now a fine line for when it’s acceptable.

If you’ve been using it, or even if you’re now considering it, it’s a good idea to only use it for genuine reasons for a while.

#6 The power of now

We’re used to getting what we want when we want it: Watch a whole series on Netflix in one go; order a takeaway from an app; same-day delivery.

The pandemic has now reinforced this by making us concentrate more on the present because the future is so uncertain.

To make the most of this, do what you can do expedite the whole process from someone landing on your website to receiving the product.


During these difficult times, consumers need reassurance and information. Let them know you’re open for business, show empathy, and help wherever possible to build brand equity.

Also, remember that a time of disruption is good for testing, learning, and adapting.

Are you doing anything differently for your customers? Have you tried any of the tactics in this article? Leave a comment below.

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