COVID-19 has changed marketing in a big way, shifting focus towards digital channels as consumer behaviors and preferences evolved. Brands have adapted by increasing online presence, leveraging social media, and creating more empathetic and contextually relevant content. The pandemic emphasized the importance of agility, digital engagement, and personalized marketing strategies, leading to innovative approaches in reaching and communicating with consumers in a rapidly changing environment.
We’re now three months into the Coronavirus pandemic, and while many states are re-opening and trying to bring things to a semblance of normalcy, analyses indicate that ad spending has hit bottom. Though this puts the industry in a great position to rebound in Q3, it’s worth taking a look at how the virus has changed the face of marketing – forever.
As people go back to shopping, we won’t see consumerism the way we saw it before. Consumer priorities have shifted, and to keep up with the change, marketing strategies have to reflect that, too. Out-of-touch marketing campaigns will alienate audiences, and quickly at that.
Take a look at this Coppertone sunscreen commercial. Their “summer is still on” ad seems to speak to the current situation, yet misses the mark. Specifically calling out things like road trips and concerts, saying that they are still on, negates reality for many people.
While some may still elect to take short road trips to destinations close to home, cases of the virus are still climbing, and many are choosing staycations in an effort to avoid getting sick or spreading the virus. And many concerts and music festivals have either canceled their events completely or rescheduled tours for 2021. Several artists have postponed shows, but have yet to work out new dates. Those who don’t wish to attend the rescheduled events have the option to request refunds for the shows, so overall attendance may be down – but we’ll have to wait to see how that pans out.
The “new normal” means that people will focus more effort on saving money, rather than spending it. Research from McKinsey & Company shows Americans will remain financially conservative, reducing discretionary spending for the foreseeable future. Only 36% of those surveyed expect the economy to rebound this summer.
So, what can marketers do to navigate the post-pandemic world?
Focus on Connection
In a world where everyone was always busy and on-the-go, halting everything to stay inside our homes with family for weeks on end has reminded us that we really are all connected. Brands who highlight ways to stay connected but still get things done are ahead of the curve.
When gyms closed, Planet Fitness jumped on Facebook and YouTube to start doing a series of home “work-ins” to encourage people to keep up with their health and fitness routines. People can hop on live and work out with trainers or watch the videos later on their own schedule.
Nike is asking everyone to “play inside, play for the world” to encourage people to stay home, but like Planet Fitness, keep up with healthy activity habits. To support that message, they’ve waived fees on their premium content within the Nike Training Club app.
Shift Marketing Budgets to Test New Strategies
In times of financial crisis, marketing teams are among the first to go, but that’s not the case in this situation. Because people are home now more than before, internet usage has been up. Even though customers may not be buying, it’s still a great time to engage with them.
Direct sales companies like Tupperware and Colorstreet are seeing record high sales because the in-home party has been replaced with social media and video conferencing. People are cooking more meals at home, and using nail polish strips as a way to make up for the fact that they can’t go to the nail salon like they used to. Both companies have had to make adjustments to their website hosting structure to accommodate for the increased virtual sales volume.
Star Director, Michelle Barrett of Heart’s Desire Tupperware notes that her sales team has reached record-breaking sales levels compared to the same time period in 2019.
Colorstreet Stylist Angela Kunschmann joined at the beginning of the pandemic. Colorstreet turns 3 years old this month, and sales are higher than ever before. Since COVID from April – June, companywide sales have exploded and have been growing at 200% in sales and 207% in sponsoring, on top of regular growth.
Companies that can offer virtual replacements for the same things once offered face-to-face will still be able to operate. Restaurants have shifted to providing curbside delivery, while services like GrubHub and Instacart offer no-contact delivery options.
Worry Less About Your Company and More About Your Customers
Yes, your company’s revenue matters. If you can’t stay open, it affects all of your employees. That said, by focusing on your customers – providing help and resources selflessly, you can do a great deal to protect your company and keep it above water.
Your customers may be having financial issues, especially if they’re waiting on unemployment benefits and aren’t considered an essential employee. Offering payment options and flexibility with financing options like Affirm or Klarna makes it easier for customers to pay.
Where you can, offer educational training to help others, as many are seeking new ways to earn money. Create as much content as you can that speaks to your audience’s biggest pain points, worries, and concerns.
As the number of cases continues to grow, we can only expect things to get worse before they get better. Personally, all you can do is practice social distancing and limit trips outside the home to only what is necessary. But, in terms of your business and marketing, it’s possible to make adjustments so that you can keep things running as smoothly as possible until the pandemic runs its course.