The global pandemic and the resulting social and political impacts have led to in a shift consumers' expectations as well as their behaviour. For brands, such changes could pose challenges as old ways of marketing have become obsolete. With that, it is imperative that brands relook at their marketing strategies to drive results and create long term impact.
Why is there a need for change?
Consumers' expectations have evolved
Consumers are becoming more particular on how companies are protect their employees and support social causes. 59% of respondents are likely to be more loyal to braands that support causes they care about. (Source: DNA, Seattle, "Foresight 2020", Oct 15, 2019)
With that, brands messaging needs to be more humanized and purpose driven.
Rapid shift towards digital channels
According to ShawSpring Research, e-commerce penetration in U.S.rosed significantly with its share of retail sales surging 70% Year-on-Year (YoY).
This surge in online traffic creates new opportunities for brands to reach consumers during their path to purchase. By leveraging these insightful new datasets, brands can target audiences with adjacent or related product advertisements.
Surge in online traffic also contributed to higher return on digital advertising spends
Meanwhile, brands have benefited from the lower cost per click for their paid advertisements due to the surge in number of clicks from the rise in online traffic. For instance, the return on adspend on Amazon Sponsored products increased by almost 7 times during the pandemic.
How can brands rethink their brand strategy?
Align brand offerings to long-term trends
Brand loyalty is no longer a given. Instead of attempting to 'wait it out', brands need to strategically pivot and reposition their brands. 75% of consumers have experimented with a different shopping behaviour during the crisis, including trying new brands and places to shop. (Source: McKinsey)
Brands should focus on aligning their products and services to trends that have been intensified by the pandemic and are here to stay. For instance, remote working, social distancing, consumers' social expectations for brands and increased technology adoption will continue to remain and even intensify. It is important for brands to continue monitoring new trends and keep their marketing plan flexible.
Leverage on existing capabilities
Brands need to think out of the box and strengthen their offerings by understanding their core competencies and utilising existing resources.
For instance, AirBnB greatest resources is their audience – both experience providers and experience seekers, not the rooms! Despite severely impacted by global travel restrictions, AirBnb capitalised on their existing audiences to offer online experiences (e.g. Coffee Masterclass) at a small fee by matching hosts and guests.
Similarly, ClassPass allowed their gym studio partners to offer livestream workouts on their platform at a reduced fee. Instead of completely shutting down their business, these fitness studios continue to engage their consumers even during the pandemic.
Subtle tweaks but not major overhaul
To resonate with their audiences, brands need to ensure that their messaging is consistent, empathetic and reflective of their brand values.
As a result of the global pandemic and resulting rise of social issues, consumers are now more concerned with safety, experience and comfort. They are also holding brands to higher social standards. It is therefore crucial for brands to focus on more humanized and mission-based messaging rather than performance driven ones.
How is the industry reacting?
Overall advertising spend to decline but digital advertising stays resilient
Global advertising spending is expected to shrink by 8% (-$96 billion), driven by the sharp decline in, advertising spend on traditional media channels.
In particular, ad spendings on cinema is forecasted to fall by 31.6% and out of home to decrease by 21.7%. In contrast, ad spend on social media and online video bucked the trend by registering a 10% and 5% expansion.
What should brands do?
Keep advertising, but redesign their campaign
It is important to stay top of mind of consumers even during time of crisis. The shift to online channels is not temporary, most consumers intend to continue shopping online even when the crisis subsides. 61% of consumers used digital channels to decide where to shop, including social media, online ads or proactively searching. (Source: McKinsey)
Brands should look to spending more budget on online channels such as social media platforms, gaming platforms or even streaming services.
Examine current data and collect new information
As consumers' routine and habits changed, data and information collected previously is now irrelevant. In other words, marketing strategies that have worked previously, might not today. Brands need to optimize their marketing efforts with relevant data. This could include restructuring advertisement placements and re-evaluate key metrics for campaign performance.
As more people continue to work from home, advertisements should be optimized for desktop users rather than just mobile users. Social media managers could also relook at the timing for social posts as time windows for social media engagements have also evolved as commuting habits change.
Stay on top of changes and be quick to adapt As more companies temporarily halt their campaigns to reduce marketing costs, cost of advertising will fall. Based on a survey by Interactive Advertising Bureau (iAB), more than half of big brands expect to spend less on advertisements on 2020 as compared to 2019.
This imply that for the same amount of advertising budget, the exposure, reach and top-of-mind share will increase. Therefore, brands should monitor competition and scale accordingly.
In summary, brands need to quickly re-strategise and adapt to changing consumer preferences. By understanding their core capabilities, brands can pivot more rapidly and effectively. It is also crucial for brands to be well informed and have a flexible approach to stay competitive.
Written by Shuang Yu Yap, marketing associate and consultant of KeyHole Insights.
A marketing enthusiast who explores the combination of insights, content, design and analytics to create value for businesses and consumers.
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