Editor’s note: Jola Burnett is the vice president, client development, in the U.S. for Behaviorally (Formerly PRS). Burnett is based in New York. 

As COVID-related restrictions ease, we are all cautiously hopeful for some return to a post-pandemic equilibrium. Strategists in board rooms around the world, hungry for some degree of reliable predictability, are now pondering a new normal asking, “Now what?”

While watershed moments like the COVID-19 pandemic are unpredictable, the pandemic has accelerated trends and consumer behaviors that were already building up. Younger generations were the ones engaging in click-and-collect and digital experiences, but a time of crisis (aka the pandemic) has pushed societies to alter their behavior forever. There is an abundance of data – both anecdotal and quantified by surveys and research across the industry – that definitively report on what most of us already knew had been trending before COVID: Fueled mostly by “there was no other choice,” consumers at least experimented with online shopping, particularly in grocery, and many claim that they are not going back.    

As a result of the changing consumer lifestyles and shopping behaviors, we are looking at a whole new world of changing consumer needs. The future of shopping is hybrid. There is an expectation for more experiential shopping beyond a quick transaction. One caveat to keep in mind is the product category, as it can have an impact on customer involvement. With that said, the pandemic has set new bars for achieving loyalty and ways for brands to drive shopper growth.

Consumers are slowly returning to their workplaces – though many will do so on a hybrid basis. This has an impact on where people shop, when they shop and what they shop for. Many have shifted away from coffee shops to gourmet brews at home. Consumers are also slowly returning to stores, but we will need to watch this closely because ...