Sep 9th 2021

Maintaining lockdown behaviours: The continued need for digital growth

Even before the pandemic, companies were coming to terms with the fact that increasing digital marketing efforts and selling via e-commerce was a move likely to improve their business. However, since Covid-19 began dominating our lives, and with lockdown after lockdown becoming a new way of life for all of us, digital marketing is now compulsory for business survival. It is essential that companies develop digital brands that are accessible to everyone, rather than being focused mainly on a younger market. This is primarily because more people, of all ages, do not seem ready to give up the habits they picked up during the pandemic, despite originally thinking that they may only be temporary. 

The growth of e-commerce

Experts believe that e-commerce is soon to be worth nearly £13 billion annually, accounting for 25% of all retail sales each year. 

It is clear to see why e-commerce has been booming. The high streets have shut down over and over, meaning online shopping was bound to increase. In the spring of 2020, the first of the UK’s national lockdowns, online sales surged by 129%. 

However, what is making it so crucial that companies stick with developing their digital marketing and e-commerce platforms is the fact that so many of us do not seem ready to step out of those pandemic behaviours. This is shown by the statistic that shopping app use has grown by almost a third this year, despite stores reopening. In other words, fewer people are getting out and about!

Eating habits

Take eating, for instance. During the height of the pandemic, restaurants and cafes were shut. During this time, some people wished to avoid supermarkets to protect or shield themselves, and some people perhaps just enjoyed the novelty of not needing to go out. This meant that in lockdown, food delivery services prospered. In fact, orders via Uber Eats skyrocketed by 160% in the first national lockdown. But, the ‘eating in’ trend does not seem to be going away any time soon. 

Despite the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions this spring, it seems as if a lot of people are sticking to their eating habits developed during the lockdowns. This is shown by the fact that Deliveroo doubled its number of orders through the first half of this year, with ‘no material impact’ (a phrase used for anything with less than 1% effect on turnover) being caused during the second quarter, once restaurants were reopened. 

Here is an example of people choosing to stay at home, despite the freedoms that have been returned to them. Companies must therefore continue to focus on digital services over in-person sales, with a continued high demand for these services.

‘Silver streamers’

The older generation are also continuing with their lockdown habits. Last year, a year that featured two national lockdowns, only 36% of people aged 65-75 had a subscription to an online streaming platform, such as Amazon Prime or Netflix. However, in 2021, a year with only one lockdown and what we hope to be the start of a return to normal life, this figure has shot up by nearly a quarter of 65-75s. 

Not only does this illustrate a reluctance to abstain from lockdown habits, but it shows that many of the older generation, typically seen as the least ‘tech-savvy’, have now become more dependent on technology to replace some of their pre-lockdown pastimes.

This is another example of why businesses need to focus on digital branding in a post-Covid world. If even the older generation are learning how to embrace technology, as shown by the silver streamers, then each brand has an opportunity to target customers online now. A whole new demographic is now watching online content, therefore they can now be targeted with online advertising. Thanks to our lockdown periods, no more are online services centred around younger generations, but are now accessible by a variety of audiences. 

The remote work dream

We all know the pandemic meant that the majority of workplaces shifted to remote working. Fortunately, in an age of high-level tech and high-speed internet, the transition was one most businesses could cope with. However, it appears as if more and more people wish to stay in this pandemic way of working.

UK-based jobs board Totaljobs has seen a ‘sharp rise’ in searches for roles offering remote options, increasing from 15% of searches in 2019 to 40% just two years on. The Telegraph reported that at the end of July the number of people returning to their offices was still way below 15%, despite this being after so-called ‘Freedom Day’. 

Though this does seem to be slowly increasing during August, there is certainly a higher desire to work from home than there was pre-pandemic. This is also shown by a survey conducted after Freedom Day, which found 40% of UK workers would look for another job if made by their employer to go back to the office. 

Digital marketing and e-commerce: The only solution for business

Despite some acceptance that in-store sales may slowly begin to increase again, there is no denying they will not return to the levels experienced pre-Covid. This shows how vital it is for companies to use the technology available to them to create digital brands that can be engaged with by everyone. People of all ages are no longer expecting to go to where the product is waiting for them, but they are now waiting for the product to arrive at their doorstep or straight to their screens. Therefore, companies must invest in being able to offer these sorts of services to customers, otherwise, they may well end up losing out in the new way of life adopted after the pandemic. 

 

Here at Babel, working in technology PR and communications, we offer expert advice to a range of tech companies, including those in the e-commerce and digital marketing sectors. Wherever you operate, we’d love to hear from you; get in touch today. 

 


Michael Gillett
Michael Gillett