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How the Crisis is Changing Consumer Behavior, and How Entrepreneurs Can Act on It What extended work from home scenarios mean for consumer behavior and where the best opportunities lie.

By John Boitnott

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Some changes in consumer behavior during the current crisis are fairly obvious. For instance, more people had to switch to working from home. Companies with digital tools and platforms aimed at remote workers suddenly found themselves experiencing greater success — and Zoom completely surpassed earnings expectations.

However, there's more going on with consumer behavior that may impact revenue growth. Here's how entrepreneurs can leverage that change.

Related: 7 Ways to Recover From Too Many Online Meetings During the Day

Consumers became even more concerned about their health

Without the commute and with the addition of a flexible remote work schedule, gym closures and more time to think about their health, consumers turned their attention to at-home fitness routines. Publishers of YouTube workout and yoga routines saw their views go from hundreds to hundreds of thousands as people sought new ways to work out. Stationary bike maker Peloton saw its sales go through the roof. Home gym manufacturers couldn't keep up with demand.

Companies that might have only reached out to customers through a physical location might want to consider concentrating more on wearable or digital products. December Labs assists such companies in health and fitness by developing apps and software solutions for fitness wearables or fitness equipment integration. It also helps businesses identify and track relevant trends that support their "new normal" product strategy.

The design and development company works to create solutions that improve digital health service delivery, provide sleep support, offer breast health monitoring or track biometric fitness data. The company helped Biostrap, a smart wearable device, improve its app experience for heart, sleep and activity monitoring. The product records advanced biometric data for personalized health and fitness insights.

Related: Study: Health Care Is Freelancers' Biggest Concern

Consumers are playing more games on mobile devices

Games aren't just for kids. In fact, an increasingly wider demographic has been playing mobile games. But when your potential customers are playing games on their phone, they won't likely notice your ad campaigns on Facebook and elsewhere.

According to a SensorTower report, game downloads surpassed 13 billion across the App Store and Google Play for the first time during the first part of 2020. That's an increase of over two billion compared to the previous record quarter. The report also found that the most popular game downloads were those that connected people remotely and offered a social component, such as Words With Friends 2 and Scrabble Go. Also, popular sandbox games like Roblox and Minecraft grew in use, thanks to kids and teens being stuck at home with more free time.

Games are also being used for more than just gameplay. For example, the Travis Scott concert in Fortnite and the Lady Gaga concert in Roblox each attracted millions of people, indicating that people use gaming platforms to socialize, buy things and educate and entertain themselves in multiple ways.

Companies like Admix are helping startups and globally recognized brands reach elusive segments of their target audiences through non-intrusive in-game ads. In addition to mobile games, other gaming platforms, including desktop computers, gaming consoles and virtual reality devices can display these ads. They're GDPR-compliant and offer targeted approaches to connecting with specific audience segments based on their preferred gameplay.

Related: As Advertisers Flock to Mobile Gaming, Developers are Finding New Ways to Compete

For example, National Geographic wanted to promote season two of its Mars show through a mobile campaign to reach a demographic of men ages 24 to 35. Leveraging the company's gaze-tracking technology made for immersive environments like gameplay, Admix found VR apps that aligned with the target audience. The resulting campaign reached nearly 200,000 VR app users in the U.S. and delivered 235,000 impressions.

Consumers have to find a new way to "discover" new products

The pandemic has also altered consumer behavior related to grocery shopping. For example, food and snack brands have relied on product placement in stores to trigger impulse buys of new items. Yet many consumers may not see those for quite some time.

Following shelter-in-place orders, many customers now rely on shopping and delivery services like Instacart, Shipt and Postmates. Consequently, consumers may not be as readily aware of new products. These food and snack brands also face pressure from online retailers like Amazon.

This may be the time to migrate to the Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) model. Large consumer food, beverage and snack manufacturers have already launched their own DTC websites to go beyond retail stores and reach the online consumer looking for new or favorite perishable products.

Related: If You're Sick of Cooking, This Meal Delivery Service is Dedicated to Sustainable Practices and Clean Ingredients

Companies like Portobel cut out the middleman and let wholesalers sell directly to customers. This is ideal for smaller food and snack companies that may not have the resources to launch significant marketing campaigns and develop their own ecommerce platforms. The company covers all aspects of the DTC model — from offering ready-made, customizable ecommerce platforms and specialty packaging, to a delivery process that uses advanced technology.

Portobel's DTC model includes a machine learning solution for planning packaging, shipping and delivery. The company uses a Temp Tracker in its delivery vehicles to send temperature and location data back to the wholesaler throughout the shipment journey. This way, they know how their products are being handled and are assured that customers get solid service.

Opportunities await

Shifting consumer behaviors should not be viewed as a challenge. Instead, they are an opportunity to adapt your business model, incorporate or design new solutions and discover new applications for your products or services.

Related: 4 Ways to Determine If Now Is the Right Time to Launch Your Business

John Boitnott

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

Journalist, Digital Media Consultant and Investor

John Boitnott is a longtime digital media consultant and journalist living in San Francisco. He's written for Venturebeat, USA Today and FastCompany.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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