Coronavirus: how can it affect the way we buy?
In times of social isolation, thinking collectively needs to become a trend
One thing is undeniable to say: we are in self-isolation. But in practice, what changes can this period cause in our scene as a society? Most likely, as we have seen in several news and studies, we will not be the same after the pandemic times. We will change thoughts, actions and ways of living. And how exactly is that going to change? What impact will this have on our lives and in what areas of it will we be affected?
In fact, the answer is very simple, but we need to change the question a little. The changes have already started to happen. Our planet is already beginning to give us its responses, both environmental and social. In countries that have adopted confinement, for example, the air is cleaner. The concentration of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) has dropped significantly in the cities of Wuhan, China, in northern Italy and also in Madrid and Barcelona, Spain. Gas is directly related to pollutants, as it is produced mainly by thermal power and vehicles.
We stopped circulating and recovered an important word at that moment: necessity. Only essential services are active and, in the economic consequences, reduces the circulation of money. A break? A rethink of the way we consume: what do we really need? What are the items that we are really going to invest in in this pandemic scenario and that we are all in a recession, deprived of activities and certain items that, at this moment, stop being produced and give way to emergencies?
Can we do the opposite of all this?
The warnings that light up in our minds about being restricted, in shortage and deprivation of certain items and our everyday consumption, bet that it will. The bullwhip effect, which is linked to manufacturers’ inventory, for example, has already begun. Which items? Precisely in the most essential: when you buy more rolls of toilet paper, more bottles of alcohol gel, masks and disposable protective gloves or even stocking up on food – and the shelves are empty, the current system takes time to identify the need. It loses sales, production speed and delays replenishment. With each crack of the whip, a wave is created that moves it away from the cable, hence the name.
But, what does this really mean? That we created a breakdown for the system from a panic-generated purchase. You buy a lot for fear of missing out, you work a lot harder to fulfill a demand that was not expected within this supply chain, you create a false demand for manufacturers and, when the whole scenario is returning to normal, there will be shelves, because we buy too much and we don’t use all of our stock, most likely.
The lack of products and the need to buy to attest to a “state of normality” to the situation after the months of lockdown, can generate a consumption called revenge buying, which is ruled precisely by the absence or lack of products in the market. The first uses of the term were in the 1980s, when the Chinese began to buy large sums and volumes for not having access to foreign products, a pent-up demand.
Today, in the days of COVID-19, it means the return of the status that can be brought about by purchasing power and fear, from the panic of not having that item at some point again, even if it is done unconsciously most of the time. An example? China itself, in Guangzhou, recorded US$ 2.7 million in sales to a French brand’s stores in just one day.
How to change this scene?
The solution to unconscious and unrestrained consumption that can start to happen is, precisely, the awareness of our consumption. Let us add moral values to what we buy – and not just price tags. Let us think, when buying, in real need, on the combinations that can be made when using a wardrobe piece, for example. If you spend a lot of money on a product and use it only once, your loss is much greater than your profit on using it.
Search, search and search. Access to information can always change what we do and make it better, more conscious and real: it makes a difference if a brand makes the local economy revolve, if it pays its employees fairly, if it has concerns about the planet. After all, in times of being isolated by a virus, we also learn the meanings of importance and priority, which are even more relevant — and always appear collectively, as we are all in the world: we are stronger when we are together.
Text by Larissa Mariano