Consumer expectations beyond COVID-19

July 20, 2020

Life beyond COVID-19: How have your consumers’ needs and expectations changed?

Consumers now lead markedly different lifestyles under COVID-19 conditions, and this has energised some needs while putting a pause on others. Here, we take a closer look at three consumer needs that have been impacted by the crisis. 


The need to be well-groomed

Status: Declining  

This need was already declining prior to the pandemic: from 2019 to 2020, the proportion of GB women aged 16–29 who claim to use makeup at least weekly fell from 72% to 59% – marking a 13 percentage point decrease (source: Foresight Factory). Globally, there was an average decline of -7%; China, Thailand, Malaysia, Korea and Italy were the only markets that did not see decreases. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has further dampened this. For instance, the widespread wearing of face masks has resulted in many consumers streamlining their beauty routines. In India, online shopping portal Snapdeal has reported declining demand for makeup products such as lipstick – after all, why apply a bold lip when it will ultimately be hidden behind a mask? Also, with many consumers working from home, some may feel less compelled to even use makeup at all. 

This is not to say that looking good is no longer a priority. Rather, the meaning of beauty has expanded. It is now less perfect, more holistic, more experimental. Indeed, sales of skincare and haircare products are faring much better during COVID-19, as consumers look to pamper themselves at home. With more time on their hands, some consumers are also seizing the opportunity to experiment with new looks such as outré hair colours. It seems that a backlash to “perfection obsession” has occurred. Could COVID-19 pave the way for a less formal world? 


The need for better work-life balance

Status: Increasing    

There has been a steady rise in the need for better work-life balance over the past few years, especially among younger consumers. In 2020, 59% of GB 2534s felt the need “to have a shorter working week and more leisure time, even if it means less pay” – up from 44% in 2011 (source: Foresight Factory)

While this growing need has not exclusively been driven by COVID-19, the pandemic has reinforced it especially since many consumers now have to work from home. According to data from VPN logins before and after 11 March, people in the UK and France are working two extra hours per day, and people in the US are working three extra hours (source: NordVPN). 

Fortunately, more companies are becoming aware of the need for better work-life balance. Data from jobs marketplace ZipRecruiter shows that so far in 2020, the number of companies offering a four-day work week is 69 for every 10,000 job postings – up from 40 in 2019. 

We expect the need for better work-life balance to remain front of mind for employers and employees alike for some time to come, especially as the benefits of a shorter work week become more apparent and the value of leisure time becomes more widely recognised. 


The need for nature and rural life

Status: Constant 

This is a trend to watch as cities lose some of their lustre. In 2020, 49% of GB consumers said they strongly or moderately feel the need “to be closer to country and rural life” – approximately the same as in 2011 (source: Foresight Factory). However, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities in urban living. According to the World Economic Forum, cities’ relatively dense populations, commercial activity and global connections have increased their susceptibility to pandemics. 

In response, consumers are escaping the concrete jungle and embracing nature – be it for the weekend or for good. Many are contemplating moving to rural areas: in June 2020, UK real estate company Savills said 90% of its agents reported an increase in demand for rural locations compared with a year earlier. 

In the long term, we are unlikely to see too many consumers sacrifice the allure of urban living, despite their need to get closer to nature. After all, cities have their perks: the efficient supply or utilities, reliable internet coverage and the provision of door-to-door delivery services, to name but a few. Might we, therefore, see new interest in second-tier cities, which often offer the best of both worlds?

Register for our next webinar here : How Do You Reach Consumers Now and in a Post-Pandemic World?


Written by Dominic Harrison

Director of Global Trends at Foresight Factory. Wish for the future? A world where new generations of smart tech adopt a less interruptive and visible presence in our lives. No more phones at dinner!

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