As known, methods used to prevent the COVID-19 virus have created a new normal in consumer behavior. Since we're not experiencing a situation similar to the epidemic we're going through right now, it's hard to predict where consumer behavior is going to. According to economics analyst Katie Jones, consumers' lives will be split in two as life after and before the outbreak, and there will be a significant difference between the two lives (Jones, 2020). When it comes to crisis, economic crises come to mind. Financial crises, like heart attacks, suddenly come in and grow as a result of the markets' distrust of each other in an environment of uncertainty. Outbreaks are global cases where people do not trust each other, uncertainty occurs, unemployment is increasing and as a result of declining consumption expenditures. For this reason, pandemic processes can also be likened to crises. It is clear that the quarantine process and the aftermath of the quarantine will have both economic consequences. Lyhagen (2001) found that uncertainty for the coming period reduced consumers' consumer behavior and increased their savings. On the other hand, meeting apps such as zoom, instagram, skype, teamlink, which have existed since the past, are now widely used due to the epidemic. In addition, employees and businesses that discover the comfort and functionality of working from home can make these behaviors permanent after this process. Working from home, which is important for employers to reduce costs, is valuable because they use the time to prepare and on the path that employees have time for themselves. Similarly, many people experienced the online shopping experience in the process. Many changing consumer behaviors of this process are observed and researched. Therefore, this study aims to address changing consumer behavior in relation to the pandemic process. According to Shama (1978) as long as the changes show a predictable trend, both manufacturers and consumers can adapt to these changes and use them in their interests (Shama, 1978:43). The study has the results of national and international studies on what is changing consumer behavior.
Within the scope of the research, global research results measuring the effects of corona epidemic on consumer behavior were examined. In the study, by giving the results of the mentioned research, it is aimed to evaluate these results and thus to develop suggestions for future research.
3. FINDINGS AND CONCLUSION
All over the world, by the end of May, a process called gradual normalization is being introduced. But unless there is a vaccine or drug related to COVID-19, it's in a corner of the minds of consumers who will adapt to the work of normalization outside, “what if it gets infected?” there will be fear. In this process, instead of giving importance to advertising and sales strategies, the duty of brands is to provide support to confused consumers and to provide solutions to their dilemma. In order for consumers to get through this transition process with minimal damage, it is very important for brands to provide content that will support consumers and, if possible, to carry out a redeeming mission. According to McKinsey's results, even in China, which has been battling this virus for longer than other countries since COVID-19 emerged there, consumer spending is still considerably lower than the old levels. Brands that follow digital portfolios, constantly change, and benefit from online learning mechanisms will be successful in the “new normal” because no one knows the process called the new normal.
The concept of “brand identity” has become important for the development of consumers' purchasing behavior during the epidemic process. Brand identity; is the brand's culture, capital and personality. Brands that can invest in brand personality will come to the fore as they cannot sell. Social changes seem likely to occur as a result of the current crisis, and consumers will change the way they interact with people and brands for the foreseeable future. While many behaviors will return to historical patterns after a vaccine has been discovered and distributed, there will also be many things that will be permanent. Due to the rapid spread of the virus, consumers who are afraid of the crowd may not prefer crowded places such as entertainment places, restaurants, shopping malls, gyms, even after the virus is under control. Socialization can be home-based or focus on smaller groups.
Nowadays, consumers who want to stay away from home and those who are accustomed to stay at home after the epidemic may prefer to work from home in their normal business life. Because in this process there may be behaviors that they internalize. While some people will go to their hometown during the epidemic-related normalization processes, most people are likely to spend less time and money on vacation. Since consumers constantly spend time at home in this process, they prefer to improve their homes or spend more for expensive home-based products. The development of home-based hobbies can continue in the life after the virus.
For all these reasons, it can be assumed that some behavior will change permanently due to the time when people will have to get used to new patterns and new products and services that will evolve to meet changing needs now and then. Permanent behavioral changes in society will be observed, at least until vaccination is found and spread.
As a result of the research results in this study; researchers may be suggested to carry out studies on influencer marketing, especially in the corona epidemic process. A scale can be developed and consumers can be researched about the behaviors that cause consumers to display more buying behavior than they should with fear and panic feelings in uncertain situations. Studies can be carried out on the sectors that have shrunk as a result of the changing consumer behavior and the solution suggestions. Studies can also be conducted on the growing sectors due to changing consumer behavior. In addition, focusing on the studies related to Generation Z, which first met the concept of "stocking", may be one of the research suggestions that emerged as a result of this study.
- Jones, Katie, “How COVID-19 Consumer Spending is Impacting Industries” Visual Capitalist, April 22, 2020.
- Lyhagen, Johan (2001), “The Effect of Precautionary Saving on Consumption in Sweden”, Applied Economics, vol. 33, 2001, ss. 673 – 681.
- Shama, Avraham (1978), “Management and Consumers in Era of Stagflation”, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 42 (July 1978).
- Yavuz, F. (2020). Tarıma Koronavirüs Etkisi. Kriter Dergisi, Mayıs, 5(46).