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Torelli Explains Pandemic-Related Emerging Global Consumer Behaviors

Gies College of Business Professor Carlos Torelli shared the marketing implications of new coronavirus-driven consumer behaviors in a webinar that helps businesses navigate uncertain business and social times. Torelli is also executive director of Executive Education and James F. Towey Faculty Fellow at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“We look forward to continuing to offer our faculty’s perspectives through our innovative online platform that’s built to share our expertise in an informative and engaging way,” said Jeffrey R. Brown, the Josef and Margot Lakonishok Professor of Business and Dean of Gies College of Business.

The second in the series, “Consumer Behavior in the Global Marketplace in the Time of Coronavirus” looks at ways business leaders can overcome the challenges this pandemic presents. Torelli discussed how a global crisis impacts the psychological responses of consumers in global markets and considered how organizations address resulting consumer concerns and needs. The full session is available here.

“People want to gain some sort of control of their life and prepare for what’s to come. When people feel uncertainty, they buy things they know they will consume, like toilet paper or cereal,” said Torelli.

Over the next nine months Torelli believes consumers will gravitate toward brands that feel familiar and that highlight local production and sourcing.

“Emphasize a leadership position, even if it’s narrow. Position your brand as the status quo, whenever possible,” Torelli added, citing that new and imported products will be at a disadvantage. “Consumers will be more appreciative of American-made products that are more familiar and normative.”

Globally, a focus on safety and a consumer’s cultural world view will drive how people respond to the crisis over the long term.

“This hypersensitivity of mortality is what’s going to lead people to fan their cultural world view. There will be a doubling down on conforming to the norm and punishing deviant behavior,” he said. “People will be even more risk-averse.”

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