Marketing in the covid19 world
The pandemic that came crushing the world is not expected to leave us anytime soon i.e. a minimum of two more years before we can witness a covid free world. While doctors and researchers are busy saving lives, marketers too have been bestowed with the responsibility of saving businesses and not to mention with a magic wand called digital marketing.
The initial response towards covid was inspired by panic and led many marketers towards digital transformations for survival. But the subsequent realization of the pandemic’s permanence made it clear that going digital is not mere survival, digital is inevitable, the necessary, the new normal. While some companies have moved to digital platforms for their marketing activities, some others are upping their game to remain relevant to the more than ever demanding and transformed digital consumers.
Change in shopping behavior has led companies to rely increasingly on digital marketing. 70% of the respondents to a survey by Mckinsey do not wish to resume their out of home activities including shopping anytime soon. This shift in consumer behavior has given rise to ample opportunities to give online shopping experiences a complete makeover. Shopping is never going to be the same again. With a plethora of businesses shifting online, it is essential that companies differentiate themselves amid the clutter. Shopping as a service model is that differentiating element and is being seen as an opportunity for giving consumers a more comfortable and enhanced shopping experience.
While experiential marketing is being extensively sought after, the use of AR to help consumers get an in-store experience has been a trending adoption by many brands post the pandemic. For instance, Kabaq 3D food tech allows consumers to view their food even before buying. In the real estate space, Ke.com lets buyers to take virtual tours of houses before buying them. Companies like Ikea and Asian Paints are also providing virtual assistance in the buying process, thereby creating a differentiated position.
A study showed that 61% of shoppers prefer retailers with AR offerings over those without it, 68% of shoppers spent more time with the products if AR was available and 72% of shoppers purchased items that they had not planned to buy because of AR.
Try before buy is being offered on products that could never have been tried before even in the physical store format. For instance- StubHub created an AR app which allows a 3D display of the stadium before buying the ticket.
Multichannel and Omnichannel retail strategies have also been trending post the pandemic. O2O (offline to online) strategies have been adopted by brands to provide the ultimate omni-channel experience to their consumers. Xiaomi has launched Mi Commerce — an O2O platform to boost sales during the pandemic in which a part of the consumers’ decision making journey happens online while another part like delivering or picking up the product is done through offline channels. Other models of omni-channel experiences include purchasing products online while at an offline store, returning an online purchased product to an offline store. Click and collect models have added immense value by bringing innumerable offerings to the consumers’ doorstep. Reliance, Amazon, Alibaba, Paytm among many others have ventured deeper into the omni-channel retail model after the pandemic struck us.
Such models require a seamless integration of consumer database, better targeting of consumers, tracking offline behavior and structuring channels to suit an integrated user experience. Payments and supply chain also need complete digitization and integration for such models to function as desired.
Studies show that consumers all across the world (with India leading on the list) are going to be mindful about where they spend money and will trade down to less expensive products. This means that value for money products and economy segments across various industries will see a surge in demand. Consumer spending is also going to shift towards essentials and discretionary product segments will suffer. This implies that even when the economic conditions start getting better, marketers should be prepared for the pent up demand and carefully design promotions to boost sales.
All types of media consumption have increased due to the pandemic. Staying at home with no physical gatherings or meetings have rendered people to consume media much more than before. According to a survey by Kantar Analytics, post the pandemic, web browsing has increased by 70%, followed by TV viewing which has increased by 63% and social media usage rate has increased by 61%. Social media platforms like Whatsapp, Facebook and Instagram have seen a 40%+ increase in usage from under 35 years.
These social media platforms that were popularly used to target and retarget consumers are also facing the problem of clutter and growing blindness towards different types of promotions and advertisements. Innovative ways of subtly entering the consumer’s consideration sets are the need of the hour. Hence word of mouth campaigns and micro influencer marketing are being increasingly used.
Credible, sensitive and responsible promotions are an important aspect for winning consumer trust which is seen to be decreasing on social media platforms. According to a study by Kantar, only 11% people find social media a trustworthy source of information compared to 52% that trust broadcast and newspapers. Brands that showcase responsibility in the tough times will definitely gain brand equity during the pandemic. Studies show that 77% consumers want brands to talk about how are they helpful in the new everyday life, 75% want to be informed of their efforts to face the situation and 70% want brands to offer a reassuring tone. Consumers are increasingly spending time interacting with brands and will place their trust with brand personalities that are comforting during the tough times.
Influencer marketing though gaining traction is also facing the problem of decreasing marketing spend by brands. Instagram influencers who are the leading choice among a plethora of platforms are facing a tough time as companies facing financial distress are reluctant to invest in partnerships and affiliate programs which require huge marketing spends. The prices of sponsored social media posts are expected to fall by over 25% due to the pandemic. Brand deals are being put on hold and influencer marketing is transforming towards mixed compensation models and revised structures to manage ROI.
“It’s no longer the big eating the small but the fast beating the slow” holds very true in the current digital marketing space. The pandemic has forced marketers to become much more innovative than ever before. Covid has birthed a new world with unexplored opportunities and the first to identify them will be deemed the winner.
The pandemic hit us hard, families and economies got destroyed and every passing day has shown us a worse state of our world. But mankind has thrived to survive. Digitization has helped so many businesses to keep rolling proving that resilience and innovation are the greatest weapons we have in this global war against the pandemic. The gigantic doors towards digital marketing have just opened for us. There is so much more to explore and expect from this space. And like Edward Kennedy has said “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dreams shall never die”
Business student at IIM Indore