It’s been almost a year since we started implementing stricter restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. Many of us may have already adjusted to this ‘new’ way of life, but it can’t be denied that a lot of people have also struggled to adapt to the unprecedented changes that came with the previous months. Among other things, the pandemic has made a significant impact on how we consume goods and services and the way we interact with businesses that provide us with our most essential needs. Let’s take a closer look at how the previous year has reshaped our habits as consumers:
We’ve Become More Dependent on Online Purchases and Digital Banking Channels
The start of the lockdown left many consumers scrambling for ways to access their essential needs, but they’re not the only ones. Businesses and financial institutions were also left with very few options for providing their products and services to their market base.
Unable to venture out of their homes and offices, consumers and providers alike turned to the internet. Banks made significant efforts to bolster their online services in such a short time. Consumers responded positively, and many people decided to open bank accounts online or download mobile banking apps if they haven’t done so before the lockdown started. Families who were stuck in different locations used banking apps and online wallets to ensure that their members are provided for as well.
Businesses of all sizes have also strengthened their online presence, with many big players revamping their websites to accommodate more consumers and online orders. Even small businesses were able to carve a niche for themselves, and many budding entrepreneurs set up their online stores on social media platforms and digital marketplaces. Grocery stores were only able to accommodate a limited number of shoppers, so many consumers turned to online stores to purchase their essentials. And even then, many brick-and-mortar grocery stores partnered with delivery service providers so that they can continue selling their products to home-bound consumers.
We’re Now More Open to the Idea of Using Cashless Transactions
The pandemic also contributed to the rise in the number of people who use cashless payment means such as cards, digital banking apps, and mobile wallets. Some people were unable to venture out of their homes and access physical currency, while there are others who found the idea of exchanging cash unsafe when there’s an ongoing pandemic. These consumers make up a portion of the people who preferred using digital cash to complete their online purchases and in-store transactions.
Come the end-of-the-year holidays, some people even encouraged their friends and family members to send their gifts online using banking apps and digital wallets. This was seen as a safer and healthier alternative to holding reunions and Christmas parties and exchanging gifts.
We’ve Seen the Need for Better Security and Improved Flexibility
The pandemic also highlighted the fact that many Filipinos don’t have enough set aside for the rainy days. Many businesses were forced to reduce their workforce, limit their operations, or even shut down their workplaces entirely. Naturally, this affected the livelihood of many. Fortunately, government and private establishments have stepped up and offered extended credit lines and more lenient payment schemes during this widespread economic difficulty. Consumers who have the means to do so have also started to look into financial products that will allow them to enjoy improved personal security and stability in the event that another pandemic or unexpected crisis takes place.
However, It’s Not Certain Whether These Consumer Habits Will Stick or Not
With the discovery of effective vaccines against COVID-19 and its different strains, many people are hopeful that this difficult ordeal will come to a close sooner or later. There are still a lot of things that we need to do so we can resume our ‘normal’ way of life from here on out, but this welcome development has pointed out that there is indeed a light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s not too far-fetched to think that many of these changes in consumer spending habits will remain with us even after the circumstance that forced their adoption has become a distant memory. As a society, we may want to retain and keep using banking and purchasing channels that are not limited by physical space or office hours. At the same time, though, there’s also a good chance that we’ll simply pick up where we’ve left off. We may have developed a greater appreciation for face-to-face interactions with people while that option is still off the table, for example, and many people might prefer talking to others while considering their purchasing decisions once this is over.
It’s clear that we’re at a crossroads, though, and the pandemic has helped popularize alternative ways of using money and accessing different wants and needs. Which purchasing and banking channels are you more likely to use once more options are available to you?