Consumer – the king of the market is being ruled by the fear of the new normal of Pandemic life.

Philip Kotler in a column on - The Consumer in the Age of Coronavirus - for The Sarasota Institute said “I predict that this period of deprivation and anxiety will usher new consumer attitudes and behaviours that will change the nature of today’s Capitalism….” [1]

True to his words, the pandemic has hit the behaviour strongly, transforming the effect of money, family, friends, psychology, and more into one pivot – FEAR of being COVID–19 Positive. This fear has downsized and completely restructured the pattern of consumption, where the consumer satisfaction has been converted to consumer protection. The 4Ps of marketing has new escort; "Products" are characterised as immunity boosters, "Place" has been re-modified with temperature monitors and sanitization areas, "Price" has a new hike with the inclusion of Corona Tax and "Promotion" the most important pillar has been rebranded, relabelled and re-advertised as #StaySafe #StayHealthy and #StayDistant.

This fear of COVID – 19 has completely gained control over every marketing strategy of Attention, Interest, Desire and Action and has surfaced to be the Thanos of Marketing World. Consumers and customers are being guided by three emerging words – Sanitized, Immunity booster and Corona-free, and with every purchase they are seeking only for their existence. No more actors, personalities, music, technology invite them or guide them, the game of billboards have come to an end, the era of glamour and advertisements has come to an end, the war of technology has come to an end, the war of comfort and lavish services have come to an end.

Fear has brought a revolution of disquietude in the behaviour of every consumer resulting from being jobless, penniless and profit less. Fear will become the new face of every consumer and fear will be the ruler of behaviour. Taking a deep look further shows that skimming the fear from the market ambit will never be an easy task and an endless effort.

So the restructuring of the behaviour calls for the emergence of a new behavioural study and model, which no more entails Psycho-analytics like Id, Ego and Superego but culminating Fear, Job retrenchment and COVID-19 Free requirement into one model perse Trepidation Model.

The Trepidation Model – Restructuring Consumer Behaviour

A prologue of a new model into the study of Consumer Behaviour Analysis - The Trepidation Model, is a development over social and psycho-analytical behaviour whose main base has been two newly developed determinants – Fear and COVID-19 Free.

With the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, the world economy came to a meltdown, where some of the major developed and developing economies recorded an economic growth of -5% to -25% approximately. The outbreak overpowering the normal trending life has clearly represented that even the most developed economies like USA and one of the largest consumer markets like India can require years to regain their stability. The pandemic has crumpled Branding, Advertising, Packaging, etc., into sidekicks of a marketing plan, the marketing mix planning could not support the aftermath of outbreak and the functions of marketing remained stagnant bringing no profit for the organization.

The Trepidation Model defines that the consumer behaviour is strongly regulated by the inhibiting fear of being affected by the pandemic and the urge or requirement of staying safe.

  • FEAR – an unpleasant emotion which interrupts the thinking process of our brains that allow us to interpret information presented to us. This impacts our thinking and decision-making in negative ways, leaving us susceptible to intense emotions and impulsive reactions. The perception of risk and the feeling of fear have lead to change in attitude and intention of consumers towards products. The buying decision has been redefined and modified towards products which have the capability of reducing the fear of consumers overpowering the concept of consumer satisfaction. The thoughts and models which integrated consumer satisfaction as the key to increase sales are to be peeled and bandaged with new layers of consumerism.
  • COVID–19 Free is a trending word taking over the market impulsively. A word which provides the utmost satisfaction of being safe to the consumers, has led to the emergence of new attractions in the form of meeting medical urgencies, and has opened doors to thousands of new ventures, whereas closed the doors to such ventures that lagged in technology especially the MSMEs.

In a world of anxiety and customer hesitation, the fear of making a bad decision looms creates heaps of stress and unrest. This unrest overwhelms the buying decision of the consumers. Determinants like cognitive evaluation demand probability and outcome valences, in a situation where emotions have been replaced with conscious deliberation of identifying the safety during the Pandemic.

The approach to analyse the consumer behaviour has to undergo a sea of change where the consumers’ uphill fight to remain safe and alive in the pandemic should be embraced with the sellers’ concern help to change the consumer’s world into crisis free, fear free and pandemic free. [2]

About the Author

Dr. Nilanjana Kumari is currently, working as HOD commerce Sunbeam Women's College Varuna Varanasi. She believes in imparting holistic development of students by combining the theoretical knowledge in practical application. She works strongly towards building a synchronous model of technology and education to help the students survive the pandemic.

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