It feels a bit tone-deaf to talk about time and money when thousands are dying from the coronavirus. But the truth of the matter is, consumer behavior is shifting as people are mandated to stay home in order to remain healthy. This is already affecting the economy, and the way marketers are doing their jobs. And the pandemic will certainly have lasting effects on individuals that could be unpredictable.
In our latest episode of Market with Me Quikly — a podcast to inform, educate and assist B2C marketers in doing their jobs just a little bit better — we spoke to Dr. Selin Malkoc about all of this.
She holds a Ph.D. in marketing from UNC-Chapel Hill and is an Associate Professor of Marketing at Ohio State University.
Her research examines how consumers make present and future decisions, how they make judgments about the passage of time and how they choose to use their time. Within it, she identifies anomalies in human behavior, understands the psychological underpinnings of these anomalies and tries to identify remedies to overcome them.
One interesting tidbit that came out of our conversation with her was a theory she floated as to why stores couldn’t keep toilet paper on the shelves: “Nervous situations almost create a need to connect with others, which might, in some ways, underlie why we're buying toilet paper. Because it comes from a need to say, ‘Hey, you know, unlike other products, toilet paper, I know why everybody is using that.’ That's a social equalizer.”
Malkoc also explained that how people are perceiving this time can affect their purchasing behavior.
“If you were seeing this as a limited thing, limited amount of time, you would be more willing to spend money and spend your money on more indulgent things than you would have otherwise.”
Additionally, she said it would be beneficial for brands to work on including smaller items that can be perceived as little luxuries in their product portfolio.
Right after 9/11 and the 2008 financial crisis, Malkoc said there was a huge jump in lipstick sales because it was a product that made people feel good without having a large financial consequence.
“We’re all looking for small moments of happiness right now instead of big experiences,” she said.
These conversations will certainly continue here — with a heavy focus on consumer psychology. If you think you can bring some level of expertise or exciting knowledge that I wouldn’t have otherwise — please reach out.
You can email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.