The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the entire world and companies are striving their best to sustain in this situation. Though the magnitude of the impact has been variable across sectors, it comes out as travel & tourism, hospitality and food chains are worst hit. For some the routine is least disturbed while the others are more vulnerable and face a complete 360-degree turn.
Change in Consumer behaviour:
This situation has brought enormous change in the consumer behaviour. Consumers who were more attracted towards fashion and beauty or were impulsive buyers are now making a more informed shopping decision. The number of consumers using online platforms to buy essentials have spiked. Hoarding of basic goods like sanitizer, hand wash, masks, toilet paper, flour was also observed in most of the countries. Consumers are focusing more on their health and also indulging in several hobbies, hence the search for news, health, cooking & gardening portals have increased. Few brands have ADAPTED but few even REDUCED their marketing expense.
Is reducing Marketing spend a wise decision?
Well the answer to this question is subjective and vary across brands. For small and new players, it’s far more difficult to cater and adapt to the changes the situation demands, while the market leaders have the resources and capability to explore new ways. But the solution for this cannot be to reduce the marketing expenses for any brand. The lower the visibility the higher the chance of low recall rate. It is better to push back your existing marketing plan and focus on the current situation to craft a message that is more empathetic and humane. A simple message with extra emphasis on the tone and language is far more productive as this will keep your brand in front of your consumers or even improve your brand image among consumers.
What shall a brand do to sustain in this current situation?
1. Brands need to rethink and revamp their marketing game to be more relevant and build engaging content to divert the consumers from this stress.
2. The cost of paid advertisement is comparatively low, and the time spent online is increasing. Brands can use this phase to advertise more &increase their ROI or at least remain visible.
3. Be more active and engage with your consumers. This can be done by going live on social media platforms, hosting webinars & podcasts, videos, commenting on social media posts etc. Creating videos is an effective way to connect with your audience. Studies suggest that 80% of consumers have consumed more video content.
4. Study the change in the media consumption pattern, devices and the platforms used by consumers and target your content/campaign accordingly. This is variable across geographies and demographic. Analyse your consumer data and make changes in your strategy.
5.Explore new technologies. Augmented reality along with AI will prove to be an efficient solution to aid consumers try products virtually. This will give a personalized experience to consumers at the comfort of their homes.
6. Another major change is the focus on product quality. Consumers are now extra cautious to buy products that are safe. It is extremely instrumental for a brand to showcase its quality standards across the supply chain to stand out.
7. The use of online payment gateway is on the rise. It is crucial for brands to transition on easy & secure online payment methods. To increase/maintain sales at this time when people are losing jobs/getting lesser salaries, it is also an important step to allow payments in instalment/EMI’s or even provide levy on instalment for few months.
8. Digital adoption has been significant among consumers and it will stay. If you are a small local brand, going digital would be a game changer for you. Introducing the business on digital platforms will increase the reach and awareness of your brand.
9. Few countries have even brought a new wave of releasing commercial movies on OTT platforms. This trend is new, but it will have a long-lasting impact. Specifically, in India, movies starring biggest celebrities are utilizing digital platforms like YouTube, Netflix & Amazon prime. This clearly depicts the power & reach of these platforms.
10.Brands should also be more careful of the actions taken throughout the business. A wrong step can ruin the brand image completely. Retaining your employees, providing salaries and small gestures of care creates a good image. This is well depicted by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). TCS ensured the safety of not only their current employees but also of their alumni by checking up on them through personal calls. Brands should also focus on providing a helping hand by contributing to the society. TCS stands tall here by donating funds for providing equipment, testing kits, setting up medical facilities etc.
11. Lastly, be more agile and flexible. Following the same tactics won’t suffice at this time of the crisis. Connect with your audience and provide meaningful solutions.
As the saying goes: All great changes are preceded by chaos, it might appear as a disruption and it is one, but the only way forward is to ‘Change’. Covid-19 pandemic has altered the way we live and perceive things, some of it will remain forever as a way of life. Being stagnant and waiting for the time to return to normalcy won’t let the business grow. Through creative thinking and effective use of consumer data, explore new ways and make your brand a meaningful one in this situation.
Text by Kira Gisht