COVID-19 has impacted businesses globally. From demand to supply, every aspect of commerce has been affected. With lockdown restrictions easing out, and customers getting back to the market, it is crucial for marketers to know how the lockdown has impacted consumer behavior. It is necessary for businesses to analyze, understand, and adapt to the shift in consumer mindset.

Primary research by The Hindu identified four segments of customers that are likely to emerge post lockdown : 

  • Revenge Shoppers: The ones expected to rush out to buy things that they had not been able to buy due to lockdown restrictions
  • Revelation Shoppers: Those driven by realization based on urgency.
  • Restricted Shoppers: The cautious buyers. Getting them to come and shop, will be the biggest challenge for marketers. 
  • Research Shoppers: Customers who are looking out for offers and discounts.

Neilson identified 6 Consumption-based consumer behavior thresholds based on their study across CPG, FMCG, and Retail markets further affirming the shift in consumer sentiments.

The lockdowns have put consumer sentiments on an elevated pedestal than ever before. For businesses to emerge as champions it has become important to understand their customers better than before.

After almost 6 months into the pandemic, businesses need to be more customer-centric and compassionate to earn their customers back. Knowing one’s customer will help in answering a few basic but essential business questions like – How should they attract the right customer? What is the right time to target them? Will they buy what they have to offer? What kind of campaigns to run? How should they revise their inventory to meet demands? etc.

Businesses can understand their customers by tracking their purchasing behavior, closely analyzing reviews collected from various social media platforms, monitoring web traffic, gathering insights from their loyalty program usage, analyzing data from the markets that have already opened, etc. 

But the best bet is to simply reach out directly to your customers as it eliminates a lot of variables and assumptions. That’s why Customer Survey Campaigns are one of the most powerful ways to get quick, reliable, and focused feedback.

Understanding Survey Campaigns

A Customer Survey Campaign is a survey sent out directly to customers, to their registered mail IDs or through a link to their registered mobile numbers. It is a repository of relevant questions aimed at collecting suggestions, feedback, and criticisms from responders in order to understand them better.

A Survey Campaign should incentivize respondents for filling out the surveys. Typically, the incentives can be a discount voucher or a cashback offer. And in that sense, a survey campaign is like any other marketing campaign.

Customer surveys are an antidote to fundamental biases, subjective assumptions and reasoning flaws that are inherent in human decision making. It helps brands and businesses to break organizational echo chambers to derive a critical and objective understanding of their brand from a consumer’s lens.

Given the times, it is very crucial for brands to emotionally connect with their customers; Customer Survey Campaigns should be complementary to sales-oriented marketing campaigns as they position the brand as someone who cares about their consumers and weighs their sentiments. They also help brands to be perceived as socially responsible and empathic.  

Best Practices to Plan a Survey Campaign:

  • The short and sweet survey: The survey should be simple, user-friendly, and focussed. The survey should be very specific and should answer the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of your business questions. Surveys are one of the best methods to dive deep into your consumer’s mind to not only understand them better but also build a closer relationship with them.
  • To the point questionnaire: Surveys to understand consumer behavior entails questions based on purchase
    preferences. A great example of this would be a survey that re-engages a specific demographic to understand their preference with regards to shopping digitally, or at a physical store. It can also uncover customer comfort levels around buy online/pickup from store, home delivery and what brands can do to improve the
    in-store experience.
  • Frequency: While it’s important to include the right questions, it’s also vital to distribute surveys frequently and be consistent about when you send them.
  • A ‘Thank You!’ Note: Thanking your customers for their feedback and adding an incentive, is a humble way of closing the survey campaign loop. This allows a brand to – build closer relationships with its customers and propagates a perception of an empathetic brand that listens to and values customer opinions. Incentivizing customers with a discount coupon or a personalized offer can also help in increasing conversions during a crisis situation. This will help companies find new opportunities, increase the engagement rate, and stand out from their competition.
  • And, Action!: Much of the Survey Campaign’s success depends on how companies act on the responses. Survey results can be utilized and put-together in multiple ways: survey reports, infographics, podcasts, webcasts, blog posts, tweets, etc, ultimately improving SEO visibility and stronger brand credibility. The responses can further be correlated with historic data and with other KPIs like Churn Rate, Lifetime Value to get deeper insights. They can further utilize it to increase customer-brand engagement and drive their business motives through informed decisions.

In Conclusion 

Consumers are changing their purchasing behavior in response to the pandemic. The leisure time, changes in income levels and lockdown restrictions are expected to bring substantial changes in consumer’s attitudes and behaviors, which will, in turn, affect their buying-habit and purchase frequency.  While the crisis has resulted in massive losses to businesses around the globe, Customer Survey Campaigns can bridge the gap between customer’s expectations and what brands have to offer by reducing the uncertainty involved and helping brands to understand and serve their customers better than before! The businesses able to empathize and connect with their customers emotionally; and those driven by customer-centric sentiments are likely to evolve as Champions!

Shrey Nougarahiya
Shrey Nougarahiya is part of the Center of Excellence team in Capillary Technologies. He is a Research and Data science enthusiast. His Research Paper titled "COVID-19 and Global Commerce: An Analysis of FMCG, and Retail Industries of Tomorrow" made it to SSRN's Top 10 List, consecutively for a week. He draws mandalas, enjoys travelling, and teaches science when not working.