New Zealand may be on the home stretch to alert level 1, but many of the changes made during lockdown are expected to continue.
Covid-19 has had far-reaching effects on more than just our health and workplace. How we interact, work, shop, learn and holiday has changed, and it is expected some of these changes will remain after a vaccine for the virus has been developed.
New research from global consulting company Accenture, which surveyed 6000 consumers in 15 countries during March and April, found people are more concerned about the impact of the pandemic on the economy than on their health.
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Ben Morgan, managing director of Accenture New Zealand, said the pandemic had made consumers more mindful of what they were buying and how they were spending.
The report found consumers were feeling more connected to their local communities, and more than 46 per cent of people who had never worked from home before Covid planned to continue to do so in the future.
"What Covid has done is really changed the way that people are living. We're buying differently and in many ways we're thinking about how we purchase things differently," Morgan told the Herald.
Covid-19 has accelerated the rise in conscious consumption, the preference for local goods and services and now more than ever people are prioritising products and services that improve their health and wellbeing, the research found.
Limiting food waste and shopping more health-consciously were found to be the top two priorities for consumers at present, and Covid had also fuelled a new-found love for supporting local businesses.
"These behaviours, we believe, are going to change how we shop permanently. The new everyday shopping/buying behaviours, for example. Rather than going to the supermarket once a day we're now starting to see people go twice a week, the size of their basket is increasing - Covid has changed the way from convenience shopping we were doing."
The research found that businesses that embraced e-commerce and digital shopping channels would likely be better off than those that did not.
"The key to success in the future is how you create experiences and how you make that seamless," Morgan said, adding that he did not believe a business could be successful without having an online presence in this environment.
"Covid is really going to disrupt the retail scene. Those that are prepared to invest and to have some form of digital commerce offering are going to be able to future-proof their business and be a lot more relevant than those that stick to a singular format."
Businesses that struggle to survive the pandemic would be those that did not make the transaction or shopping experience easy.
"Digital commerce is going to be an important part of Aotearoa's economic recovery, and it is [going to be] a big part of how we interact. It is a way to become more relevant."
Another change coming for business: The return to local manufacturing as consumer sentiment around locally owned and made becomes a priority.
Consumers were now also more interested in how organisations treat and pay their staff and subsequently where they spend their money.
The uptake in online shopping has been accelerated by the virus, Morgan said. Retail expects the proportion of spending conducted online now at about 20 per cent, up from 8.9 per cent before lockdown. The level of spending is expected to continue.
Retail NZ chief executive Greg Harford said the immediate spike in online shopping was a lot higher than 20 per cent, but it was now settling at this level.
"The rate of growth in online has been massive for some time. Retail NZ expects that the Covid-19 crisis has significantly accelerated the trend towards online shopping, and it will hold at relatively high levels for some time to come," Harford said.
Morgan said there was a notion of online shopping habits changing permanently.
"If you look at supermarket shopping, where New Zealand has historically lagged in terms of the ability to shop online, people are finding it is a pretty good value proposition to be able to order online and be able to have it delivered.
"Covid is showing us the right of convenience, and those are things people aren't going to want to let go of. We're in the virtual century as Covid has hit.
"Within the bubble of working from home, our behaviours have changed in terms of how we interact with friends. There's a number of things which people have done that they've quite enjoyed that they will look to carry forward post-Covid - that's everything from Zoom calls with families to catching up, and these behaviours are going to influence how we think and interact with brands."
Retailers would need to consider different ways of communicating with customers. An example of this could be product demonstrations by Zoom calls, Morgan said.
"We've all got used to Zoom calls, interacting on FaceTime. New Zealand has been quite hesitant to put video chat as a way for customers to interact with brands ... what I think we'll start to see is for retailers to be successful they'll actually start to experiment with some new ways to interact, share product details, provide customer service - there's a lot of learnings in the last eight weeks which otherwise would have probably taken three to five years to get to."