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Opportunity or Disaster? Dealing with Changing Consumer Behaviour Post COVID-19


The digital world has changed how humans behave and respond in an exceptional manner, and without a doubt has altered consumer behaviour and demands on a mass scale.


As a SME owner, such changes in consumer behaviour can be difficult to understand or even recognise, especially daunting during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Essential, functional, and even emotional spending have taken precedence over redundant and luxury consumption. However, in order to survive, every business will have to pivot and identify various marketing strategies to overcome challenges and capitalise on new opportunities.


We asked:

Will the COVID-19 pandemic bring about a disaster or opportunity for businesses dealing with changing consumer behaviours?


To find out the answer, we hosted a roundtable session with Found8 members and partners from Singapore and Malaysia, consisting of founders, entrepreneurs, and experts across the innovation ecosystem in IT and data, sales and marketing, and food and beverage (F&B) industries.



“OctiFi enables merchants to offer on-demand customer financing solutions.”

- Ed Chin, Founder


Recognising changes in consumer behaviour 

"Consumers are spending a lot more online. As we speak to our clients, they are becoming more B2B focused and are already thinking of ways to bring their business online or get leads online to drive traffic when they open physically.


For example, aesthetic services or treatment and spa services that are harder to sell online without their physical spaces would be more nervous when reopening. How can they get customers back in their shops and feel comfortable? I think one of their tactics is to make services more affordable. Moving forward, we observe a change in how merchants think about obtaining and retaining customers.”


Collecting customer / market data

“We’ve been working with people from a few essential services like AC installation and emergency repairs. At OctiFi, we help generate online leads and drive traffic to our clients through promotional gift cards using interest free instalments.” (Malaysia)

“Nextupasia is an online community of over 26K entrepreneurs from Malaysia and the region.” - Daniel CerVentus, Founder


Recognising changes in consumer behaviour 

“Taking the idea of the lipstick effect – we see an uptick of demand for eye makeup now since ladies are wearing masks, so attention is drawn to the eyes. Also, people do feel the need to still dress up and be presentable as they appear on Zoom calls.


Because of the long duration that people were locked up at home, once the MCO was lifted, the malls like Midvalley are almost looking like it’s back to normal. Shopping malls are a good indicator in observing how consumers are feeling, as people have the desire to go out to spend and relax.”


An opportunity or challenge?

“From what I’ve noticed, a lot of restaurants experience more foot traffic for takeaways during this period as restaurants and deliveries have flipped in Malaysia. With the spike in demand for deliveries, some restaurant operators developed a poor relationship with food delivery platforms like Grab or others as they incur costs as high as 35% of their revenue. Aside from that, some F&B companies try to differentiate themselves by coming up with innovative cook-at-home DIY kits, leveraging on the DIY trend.”


The WFH status and it's future

“I think the most important thing for employees, no matter where they work from, is culture building, morale, and group dynamics. From my previous experience, I know Wordpress has a very collaborative work structure but can be decentralised with employees working from countries all over the world. Whereas an office environment can build peer pressure or a motivating energy to work with others face-to-face. The working situation ultimately boils down to company culture and whether people prefer to have in-person or virtual meetings.”


Aliments (Malaysia)

"Empowering Next Gen F&Bs with our future proof and revenue generating solution. Growing your F&B retail business? Aliments is what you need!"

- Thaddeus Lee, Co-founder


An opportunity or challenge?

"In the F&B industry, I would say there have been positive effects. Before the crisis and MCO, about 20% of people order using food delivery. After the MCO, the delivery sector was able to diversify and provide for a larger audience. Not only did delivery platforms benefit, the COVID-19 situation gave us the opportunity to educate the public and F&B operators on using contactless technology for ordering, payments, and collections.


Although the overall dine-in experience is still irreplaceable, like gathering over steamboat, drinking… The biggest change I see is in how orders are placed and the growth of digital presence in the F&B industry. There are cloud kitchen models that currently work well for established household names, and will be helpful to more F&B brands.”


VK Transformation

"The team at VKT is currently helping businesses to accelerate their sales and marketing transformation across diverse industries like construction, pharmaceutical, packaged food, technology among others." - Sagar Roongta, Business Analyst


Collecting customer / market data

“Due to the COVID-19 disruption, many of our clients have embarked on projects to transform their business model and processes. With the external disruption, they have the opportunity to revisit radical ideas that were previously put on a back-burner. These include exploring ecommerce platforms for B2B businesses, shifting product catalogues to a digital medium, or finding new profitable target customers.


The key aspect of collecting customer & market data is utilising it in alignment with business goals. Online platforms provide a whole new perspective of customers compared to offline mediums. It can cause businesses to rethink their strategy and mode, changing the culture entirely. Market demands have changed so much and with even older generations getting comfortable with buying online, we feel that digital platforms are a saving grace and a method to capture more useful customer data.”


The WFH status and it's future

“With WFH, online meetings have caused me to experience Zoom fatigue and I feel myself exerting more energy and attention while attending virtual calls. A lag or distraction can easily cause me to miss out on important topics , thus it is definitely more exhausting than face-to-face meetings. I look forward to working in an office again.”


"Zapier for Machine Learning, we help businesses build and put ML pipelines into production. Fast and without coding." - Goh Wei Hao, APAC Head of Growth


An opportunity or challenge?

“We see that vendors are more generous in their promotions, and companies are looking to adopt new technologies that gained more visibility during the COVID-19 period. On the B2C side, we have more clients like growth marketers and data analysts experimenting with our data workspace tools. There has definitely been opportunities for progress in the digital transformation environment.”


Collecting customer / market data

“From our observations, we’re looking a lot into how users are interacting with our interface. For example, users who previously didn’t put effort in their website funnel to lead customers into conversions are now seeking to make better use of the data to improve their conversion rate. This pandemic brought a lot of companies to a standstill to reflect on how they can attract more customers.”


As a consumer or observer, what are some good and bad initiatives that you’ve seen other businesses roll out?

“I usually spend some time on Facebook and am part of a few trade-buy-sell groups. What I’ve noticed is how some people would host live auctions on the Facebook platform, and I feel it’s a good activity or even source of income during this downtime. As individuals and households declutter, people are using their time and energy into something productive.


For businesses, I’ve noticed brands like OGAWA come out with live shows as well. It proves that we can all learn how to be more digitally savvy, and this helps lesser known brands to build an online presence that people did not know about previously, increasing their brand awareness.”



Qian Choo, Operations Manager


Recognising changes in consumer behaviour 

“Since the pandemic outbreak till now, we have seen some existing customers’ business fold, and also gained new customers. In the pharmaceuticals field, Intrinsik has been in a fortunate circumstance as the pandemic helped to educate our customers the usefulness of technology in the health industry. People have said that the health industry is the slowest to adapt to new technologies, but this crisis has caused the health industry to adapt rapidly.”



Wrapping Up


In a post-COVID-19 world, businesses will remain vigilant in dealing with changing consumer behaviours. For most of us, the pandemic has surprisingly brought about more opportunities than a disaster. Businesses digitising and developing a stronger online presence is in the spotlight, as COVID-19 catalysed the expansion of e-commerce firms and online companies. In particular, the F&B industry thrived in enhancing contactless services and collaborating with delivery platforms to provide in a safe and efficient manner.


At Found8, we strive to gain valuable insights from professionals in various fields, and share them with a larger audience. The experience of pivoting our business amidst a crisis was nerve-racking as well, when we decided to launch new virtual and flexible products for the coworking community. This quick response came from the efforts of the Found8 team gathering data on understanding what our members are struggling with, and what they needed help with. Our strength was in depth rather than breadth.


As the leading innovation coworking space provider and community in Singapore and KL, Found8 enables our game-changing members to collaborate and grow by providing the right network, knowledge, and environment, and believe that we should never let a good crisis go to waste.


If you’re a startup entrepreneur, freelancer, or corporate company, click here to find out more about working with us. 

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