How To Do Consumer Research in a Crisis

3 min readMay 12, 2020

Hannah Macready from AntiSocial Solutions, a Thinkingbox company, chats about how COVID-19 has changed consumer behaviour and how businesses can adapt to these new trends.

The COVID-19 crisis has affected consumer behaviour across the globe. Brands and businesses are now faced with the challenge of marketing to an entirely new audience while year-long digital strategies have pivoted in a matter of weeks.

So, how can we collect relevant and accurate data that represents this new world? And how can we use this data to influence future trends and ensure the survival of our current markets?

How has consumer behaviour changed so far?

According to Numerator, 85% of Canadians say that their shopping behaviour has been impacted by COVID-19. Generation Z has reported the highest percentage of impact in North America, with 98% of the demographic feeling the effects. On the operational side, more than half of Canadian consumers have reported experiencing product shortages.

Overall, most of the population is “going out less” and “only shopping for groceries” which leaves consumer-based businesses in a tight spot.

The data, though worrisome, makes sense. People are concerned about their futures, their finances, and their current well-being. With uncertainty all around us, it is difficult to indulge or participate in an economy that we cannot predict.

What does this mean for businesses?

One thing that COVID-19 has shown us is the innovation of business owners. Almost immediately after brick and mortar stores were closed businesses began to pop up online, offering curbside pickups, delivery services, virtual tours, and online services.

Most Canadians are reporting that they are making online purchases in lieu of shopping in-store. That means that having a well-optimized eCommerce store is a great way to stay in the minds of Canadian consumers. In addition, finding diverse ways of incentivizing your services, whether that be implementing delivery or offering free shipping, can help retain brand integrity during this time.

Another way to ensure the strength of your business is by collecting data from your immediate consumers. Email marketing techniques, interactive social polls, and requests for feedback can help you understand how your customers are feeling about your brand, products, and their connection to you. Staying involved with your consumers will also help build brand awareness, something that will be all the more important as the crisis wages on.

How can we use this data in future business strategies?

Not only do businesses need to navigate their way through this crisis, but they need to be prepared for many other kinds of crises that could present themselves in the future. If nothing else, we should look at COVID-19 as a learning process.

In an uncertain time, using data to plan for the future can give quantifiable results to situations that seem unreadable. Data is honest and data is predictable.

Collecting and using data to tailor your business approaches will help you connect with your consumers and innovate your offerings. Listen to your consumers, ask them what they are looking for, and make sure you use that data when creating your future strategies.

We’re happy to help

From social strategy to media buying, our team is well versed in the power of data for business. If you’re looking to change your strategy, reach out to us. Let’s create this new future together.




Thinkingbox is an experience agency shaping the future of brands through craft and curiosity.