Saying that our world will change dramatically post COVID-19 pandemic is an obvious and gross understatement. We are seeing just the initial impacts on individuals and our society and it is difficult to project what the longer-term future holds given these highly uncertain times.
Yet, as we continue our battle against this invisible enemy, it is clear that we are already witnessing changes in consumer behavior across all aspects of society. Some will be short-lived, while others will significantly alter our way of life moving forward.
Looking at Active Aging consumers specifically, we are already witnessing major changes to their behaviors and lifestyle choices. While these will grow and morph over the coming weeks and months, here are five ways I believe the pandemic will impact Active Agers over the long term:
- Self-isolation and social distancing is changing the relationships we have with friends and family. Spending time connecting with people could often be challenging pre-pandemic as we were all so busy with “stuff”. With our full and busy lives, we often saw free time as “me” time or as a break from our hectic pace. We are becoming much more aware of the importance of relationships as we support one another in this challenging time. It is a time for a strengthening or rekindling of relationships on a more frequent basis and a desire for deeper and more meaningful connections to those important to us. While life will inevitably get busier again at some point, I believe the importance of strong relationships will result in Active Agers spending more time and energy on staying connecting and more present with the people important to them.
- In contrast to point 1, however, is that increased time and isolation with partners can also weaken relationships that weren’t on firm ground. Similar to Christmas when we are inclined (and may I say “forced”) to spend time in isolation with partners, closed quarters during this pandemic will put a strain on many relationships. There is a high probability that this will lead to an increase in divorce rates (especially based on reports of more couples looking to split in China, where the virus outbreak originated and people have been in lockdown much longer). A potential increase in divorce rates amongst Active Agers could impact services ranging from financial planning to dating apps and sexual health products.
- Self-isolation and the fear of going out and having contact with others has led to a rise in online ordering and delivery — of everything. Although we are experiencing issues related to the significant increase in online activity (including the incorrect filling of grocery orders and major delays in shipping and delivery times), the ease of ordering almost everything we need to survive will change our shopping and buying behaviors forever. There is no reason why Active Agers won’t continue to order products online post-pandemic and there will be plenty of opportunities for brands and businesses to take advantage of the different needs and desires of this group.
- The ever-increasing use and comfort of Active Agers with technology (including smartphones, apps and online services) will change how this group engages with society — from their shopping behavior and how they work out to how they worship and socialize with others. Their embracing of new technology will parallel a greater comfort level with new and different offerings that won’t slow down once this pandemic is over.
- With limited access to service professionals combined with a severe tightening of the pocketbook, we will see a rise in the DIY economy as Active Agers hunker down and start doing the work and projects others used to do for them. While some of these activities (i.e. healthcare and highly skilled services) will transfer back to the professionals post-pandemic, others may just get added to the To-Do list. Examples include cutting the grass, painting the house, getting nails done, and of course, getting a haircut!
Our lives and behaviors will continue to evolve and no one can predict what the new norm will look like. But life will go on and marketers and brands will need to determine how to best reach and engage consumers in this new paradigm. For enterprising brands who see the big opportunity in engaging Active Agers, now is the time to think about how best to meet their needs, now and in the future.