Study Finds Top Pandemic Consumer Behaviors Likely to Last

McKinsey’s analysis of behaviors across five countries identifies the biggest trends brought on by the pandemic that will have staying power. Here’s what they mean for events.

Author: Michelle Russell       


When COVID-19 lockdowns drove people indoors, they started making significant investments in products for their homes, like Peleton bikes. A new study says the home nesting trend is likely to continue.

To determine how enduring pandemic-spurred consumer changes will be, earlier this year McKinsey Global Institute examined a wide array of behaviors across five countries — China, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States — using a “stickiness” test. The test took into account the preferences of consumers and workers in addition to the actions of companies, including, according to MarketWatch, “the innovation unlocked by digital tools, and decisions made by governments.”

The biggest trend McKinsey analysts think will remain is home nesting. When the COVID-19 lockdowns drove everyone indoors, people started making significant investments in furnishings, durables, tools and equipment — think large-screen TVs and Peleton bikes, both of which saw soaring sales. Media and entertainment companies ramped up their streaming distribution channels and grocery chains focused heavily on their online delivery services.

And that trend — online shopping across all sectors — McKinsey predicts will stick.

Hybrid remote work for those who are able to work from home, also is likely to have staying power. McKinsey’s analysis of around 2,000 activities across more than 800 occupations suggests that up to 25 percent of workers in advanced economies could work remotely three to five days a week “without losing effectiveness.” And another McKinsey survey of 100 executives across industries and geographies, found that nine out of 10 organizations will be combining remote and in-office working in the post-pandemic future.

Of other note: While leisure travel is booming, McKinsey estimates a 20-percent drop in business travel in the near future. And the poor online education experience for primary and secondary school students during the pandemic suggests that “remote learning is likely to continue only selectively and mostly in higher education and job training.”

What can event organizers take away from McKinsey’s stickiness study? It seems clear that these shifts indicate that professional audiences will continue to seek out online learning and networking opportunities — but after 18-plus months of seamless online ordering and Netflix-binging entertainment experiences, they also will expect ease of use and novelty.

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