THE NEW REALITY OF THE MARKETING INDUSTRY IN THE AGE OF COVID-19
The marketing industry has made a remarkable shift during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it will transition again as our “new normal” sets in. It is easy to say that marketing will be different due to the pandemic, but it is hard to determine exactly how it will be different. While challenging times like these require marketers to be quick to the punch, they also call for an actionable plan for the path forward to enhance marketing performance. This article is a guide for marketers and brand managers alike to marketing in a post-Covid-19 world.
Using information and insights from expert chief marketing officers, this guide outlines some of the ways in which marketing has been changed permanently by COVID-19. We will explore some of the new developed habits of consumers navigating in a pandemic and the new processes marketing teams will have to implement to become successful in this new world.
NEW CONSUMER HABITS AND EXPECTATIONS
Among the many changes COVID-19 has caused, consumer habits and expectations have adjusted as well. These new habits and expectations have caused marketers to evolve and adapt as well—and must be done quickly if they want to establish and maintain success. Though changes to consumers’ mindsets were born during the pandemic, marketers should expect them to become permanent fixtures as they guide their brands and businesses into a new reality.
SINCERITY GOES A LONG WAY WITH CONSUMERS TODAY
According to the Chief Business Officer at Xandr, Kirk McDonald, advising marketers to “focus on the consumer first”. He also says to “go beyond the product and include messaging focused on the community, family, and CSR efforts”. We have already seen many companies do just that during the pandemic. From commercials supporting and thanking essential workers to companies offering well wishes to their customers and their families, many brands have jumped on this bandwagon—which is not a bad thing. However, brands must be careful not to sound insincere with this messaging. As McDonald says, “be sincere and transparent…build trust”. Now more than ever, consumers are expecting honesty and openness from brands. If your customers feel as if you are offering well wishes only because everyone is, you are bound to make a couple people upset with your insincerity.
CONSUMERS AND BRAND PURPOSE
One positive outlook of the COVID-19 pandemic is that the consumers’ views on the world and their place in society is changing. Consumers are striving more than ever to make a tangible difference in the world. Because of these new ideals, consumers are also expecting the same from brands and businesses they shop from. Brands must now make sure they have a strong and meaningful purpose. Some businesses and brands have already taken a step toward a more meaningful direction. According to a survey of ANA members by the ANA Center for Brand purpose, nearly 76% of respondents said their brands have embraced purpose more or much more than usual since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the WHO. Another 48% of respondents declared they are collaborating more or much more than usual with nonprofit partners. Brands having a more purposeful meaning has more than one benefit as well—it is believed that brands that genuinely activated their purpose during the pandemic will have a distinct competitive advantage over those that did not once it ends.
CONSUMERS MOVE FURTHER TOWARD ONLINE SHOPPING
Before COVID-19, the trend of online shopping was in full swing—the pandemic however, only accelerated this shift. Data released by the Bazaarvoice Network showed that in March of 2020, more than 6,200 brand and retailer sites collectively increased 21% over the same period in 2019. April 2020 saw an even more dramatic year-over increase by 95% than that of April 2019. A survey conducted by Bazaarvoice also found that 41% of respondents said they were shopping online for items they would normally purchase in the store. Since the convenience of online shopping has enticed many consumers and will continue to do so post-COVID-19 marketers need to invest appropriately to support and optimize the end-to-end online experience. Consumers are expecting more brands and businesses to offer online shopping and have an easy-to-navigate website to support their online retail experience.
MARKETERS—CHANGE OR BUST
With the numerous changes brought on by COVID-19, consumers’ habits and expectations are amongst them. Consumers are no longer willing to sit idly by and let brands and businesses get away with not offering a hand in everyone’s time of need. They also expect brands and businesses offer a better online retail experience than before. Marketers and brand managers must understand the shifts of consumers’ views if they want to stay successful in a COVID-19 world. Without that understanding, they stand the chance of failure at the worst possible time.