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Make it your new normal

Woman smiling and shopping

As lockdown restrictions begin to ease on people and businesses, we are starting to see a return of normality - and thankfully consumer spend.

Recently, TRA partnered with Paymark to build a dashboard that tracks consumer spend in New Zealand. After just a few weeks in Level 2, its showing that electronic card spend is only 2.3% under this time last year. For retailers, this will feel like an enormous relief.  Earlier in lockdown, many industries (outside supermarkets and pharmacies) were down 91% compared to last year. 

However, as we reopen the economy, not all businesses will be equal in their speed and level of recovery. 

At a total consumer spend level, we have seen a quick rebound in the early days, driven by industries such a grocery, pharmacy and liquor, while wider retail still remains well below spend values seen in previous years.

Most businesses have prioritised opening and returning to normal operating rhythms. But now we have opened up our doors, many are in a waiting game for when revenues and consumer behaviour will get back to normal. 

Image of the Paymark Spend Trends dashboard
The Paymark Spend Trends dashboard, as at 25 May, 2020

The big question is: will we ever get back to normal?

Even the NZ treasury admits forecasting right now is hard, and with such a shock to the global economy, no one can predict the long term impact on consumer behaviour.

So how do we win and recover well?

It's still early days for economic recovery. And recovery at an industry level will depend on consumer confidence and whether people feel safe in their retail environment

However winning from a competitive sense will come from those who are customer centric in creating their own business new normal. As a starting point this means:

1. Learn from lockdown

Behaviour change was forced on people during lockdown, and many businesses adapted almost overnight. For some, it meant opening up online shopping, which they had been planning for the last five years. For others it meant re-thinking whole business models - such as high-end restaurants offering cooking lessons, recipes and ingredients to their customers. 

It is important that we don't discount the customer behaviour during lock down as a once-off in our hopes to return to normal. Customers may prefer the new ways of interaction your organisation developed during lockdown. It might even have brought you more value or lowered your costs - what if you could scale that?

2. Take a step back and consider, 'what business am I in'?

Take the wider context of your customers' lives into account and ask what you really deliver. For instance, are you selling travel, or an experience? Are you selling movies, or an escape? Rethinking your wider business model will open up and expand your vision on future opportunities which you may have not considered previously. Thinking about what business you are in will also help you consider new channels and business model delivery options - while taking the lessons you learned during lockdown into account.

3. Be true to your purpose

Brands that we have seen successfully connect with their customers have stayed true to their brand purpose. This means sticking with what they believe in, having a consistent tone of voice, and even in these strange times, demonstrating their purpose through consistent actions. There is also a rising desire and expectation that brands provide more than just products and services: customers want to know there is a bigger purpose than just turning a profit. 

As we navigate our way back to normality, don't let the market dictate your new normal. Create your own and be inspired by customers in looking for new opportunities for the future. 

Explore the Paymark Spend Trends Dashboard here.

It's never been more important to make information-based decisions. Because although the country is in lockdown, organisations still have to make choices that will guide their actions and determine the success of what they do.

So, in this series, we’re sharing what TRA knows about New Zealanders to help inform better decision making, so that our companies can better serve people. 

Read the other articles in this series:

Kiwis or New Zealanders?
When progress is on pause, how should organisations behave?
A nation of independently minded rule-benders
When visions of a new life add uncertainty
What do Kiwis want brands to get behind?
Sex Matters.
Focus on people, not the flag
Five insights on revenge shopping in New Zealand
The inbetweeners are taking it hard
Bubble: A light word carrying a world of meaning

Bursting bubbles: speaking to Kiwis during Level 2
Golden oldies reframed


Black and white headshot of Shaun Fitzgibbon, partner at TRA
Shaun Fitzgibbon
Partner at TRA

New problems need new solutions.

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