The New Reality for Businesses During COVID-19: Financially Constrained & Digitally Savvy Consumers

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many big-named retailers and small-scale businesses alike were forced to shutter their doors. For some, it was a temporary respite from the constant hustle, but for others, the state lockdown was a doom sentence.  

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

COVID-19: What Consumer Want Today

For the first time in a generation, consumers are changing the way they shop. At a time when shopping physically in-stores are restricted during the state lockdowns, consumers are becoming increasingly digital savvy and are turning to the digital realm for retail therapy.

With a global recession in the midst, these consumers are also more financially constrained than ever. No longer free to spend discretionally, consumers have also become more selective in their decision making.

For many businesses, the advent of this new consumer base heralded a need for them to adapt and cater to this new demand. To do so, many organisations have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with innovative digital solutions – by proffering greater digital access to purchasing, improving customer support online, or streamlining delivery services – that appeal to consumers today.

Based on a survey by international accounting firm KPMG, 63% of the consumers surveyed voted “value for money” as an important consideration in their decision-making process when buying a product or service. Likewise, 42% of the consumers surveyed voted for “ease of buying”, while 41% of the consumers surveyed voted “trust in the brand” as important factors in decision-making.

The survey was carried out from 29 May 2020 to 8 June 2020 from more than 12,000 consumers.

woman working at home with her laptop
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Navigating The Digital Landscape During COVID-19

As the world embraces the digital medium and its social channels, such as messenger app or social media, to interact with one another during the pandemic, KMPG reports threefold increase of consumers claiming they will use these social channels to communicate with organisations.

Along the same vein, it is not surprising to see digitally savvy consumers adopting digital payment options or contactless payment in the new normal. For financially constrained consumers, interest-free instalment plans, such as hoolah, which boasts a “Buy Now, Pay Later” service, are exceptionally alluring. The Buy Now, Pay Later model, according to Wendy Liebmann, CEO of consulting firm WSL Strategic Retail, “enables shoppers – especially younger shoppers – to spend with some urgency, rather than wait and not spend at all.”

“That’s an advantage for categories like clothing, where in-and-out trends mean there is some urgency to buy. Waiting may not be an option, at least from an emotional standpoint.”, she added in an interview with Fortune.

What We Are Seeing In Malaysia

COVID-19, Malaysia

In Malaysia, the retail industry has seen sales plummet by 11.4% in the first quarter of 2020. The nation has also gone through several lockdowns, also known as Movement Control Order (MCO) or Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO), and inevitably, businesses were affected.

But with the bulk of its COVID-19 cases under control, Malaysia’s economy, which slumped badly in the second quarter of 2020, could be well on its way to recovery, says OCBC economist Wellian Wiranto.

In an exclusive interview with hoolah, four business leaders – Paulino Moreno of 6IXTY8IGHT, Agnes Aw of PAZZION Malaysia, Tara Tan of XIXILI Intima, and Richard Xia of Novelship – shared their insights on the impacts of COVID-19, the CMCO and new digital trends.

Read: Business Leaders Share Their Take On COVID-19 & CMCO: Paulino Moreno of 6IXTY8IGHT

Read: Business Leaders Share Their Take On COVID-19 & CMCO: Richard Xia of Novelship

Read: Business Leaders Share Their Take On COVID-19 & CMCO: Tara Tan of XIXILI Intima Malaysia

Read: Business Leaders Share Their Take On COVID-19 & CMCO: Agnes Aw of PAZZION Malaysia

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