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Four considerations for brands post-pandemic

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May 21 2020

As we begin to emerge into the ‘new normal’, with countries across the globe starting to ease lockdown restrictions, brands have their eyes firmly set on a swift recovery. However, the pandemic still has no visible end, and with fears of second and third waves prevalent, there is the sense in most communities that lockdown measures may be relaxed and tightened as countries continue to do all they can to battle COVID-19.

Toby Codrington, APAC CEO at Tag acknowledges the challenge brands will face in the coming months, saying “For most brands, post-pandemic life won’t involve a return to BAU. The remainder of the year will likely remain turbulent for most, and businesses must remain incredibly agile and responsive to the evolving situation in their markets.”

Codrington continues, “While the future remains unknown, a few things are clear. Consumers have streamlined their wants and needs, and brands need to acknowledge this through clear and simplified messaging. Brands must also continue to adapt to their consumers’ newly preferred shopping channels, be that in-store, online through ecommerce, social media or through some combination of the three. Looking forward, we are now faced with a global economic recession, and brands must focus their resources on planning how they will tackle the immediate issues and prepare for this new changed future.”

With the changeable economic landscape in mind, we have prepared a four-tiered approach for brands looking to market to their customers out the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Provide clear and informative communication

Retailers will likely be held in a state of flux over the coming months, reacting to changes in lockdown laws and consumer shopping habits. As a result, the importance of open, transparent communication with your customers over this period is critical. At a minimum, ensure your customers are well-informed of logistical changes to your business, including changing store hours, expected delays in ecommerce deliveries and increased hygiene measures that are being implemented to keep staff and shoppers safe.

Sharing accurate and useful information will ensure your customers feel reassured, reducing any fears that would stop them from shopping with you. In the U.S., McKinsey research showed that retailers who communicated their increased hygiene measures triggered store-switching behavior amongst shoppers, with 18% moving away from their preferred retail store towards those with more transparent communications.

Shift towards simplified marketing messages

Businesses may be tempted to quickly return to ‘business as usual’ marketing, going in heavy with multiple sales campaigns to overcome the decline in sales that many retailers experienced during the peak of the pandemic. However, marketers must consider that they will be one of many brands ramping up their communications during this time. Consumers who have decreased their exposure to advertising during the pandemic will likely feel overwhelmed when faced with a plethora of new brand advertisements, causing them to become desensitized and unresponsive to marketing messages.

Similarly, marketing will need to resonate with consumers who are likely in a new mindset when it comes to shopping and consumption. Codrington expands on this, stating “What we will see coming out the other side is a shift from transactional to meaningful shopping. Consumers will give more consideration to their purchasing than ever before, and businesses need to understand that this shift in consumer sentiment will have lasting ramifications on how they market and position their brand.” A carefully considered approach to marketing will be necessary for the foreseeable future, with brands applying the dual lens of ensuring maximum impact to cut through the clutter and a simplified message that will resonate with their consumers’ new attitudes to consumerism.

Revise expectations and prepare for the next hurdle

While marketers will be heartened by the potential of a swift recovery, the harsh reality is that the coronavirus pandemic has seemingly triggered a global recession, which will have a longer-term effect on consumers’ willingness to spend. In China for example, a McKinsey survey found that 57% of respondents experienced a reduction in income during the height of the pandemic. While China experienced an uplift in spending over the Labor Day and Mother’s Day holidays, it soon fell back to levels seen in March/April, during the outbreak. Businesses must prepare for the reality that sales won’t quickly jump back to pre-pandemic levels. Instead, brands must carefully consider how they can best position their business to face a prolonged period of soft consumer spending, adapting their product or service offering where necessary to add maximum value to customers during this period.

Embrace permanent changes in consumer behavior

Health crises have a history of acting as a change agent for consumer behavior. The 2003 outbreak of SARS in Asia has been widely attributed as the trigger for the e-commerce boom in China, and we have seen COVID-19 cause similar effects throughout communities globally. Livestream shopping has seen a dramatic increase in uptake throughout the pandemic, and while the medium had already gone mainstream in China, South Korea, Japan and South East Asia, we are seeing retailers across the globe taking part. Resulting in a shift towards event-based rather than needs-based shopping behavior. Social commerce may be the big winner of the pandemic, with consulting firm Frost & Sullivan predicting sales through social commerce to grow to USD$413bn by 2022, a 5x increase from 2017. While these newer retail channels were already experiencing traction, the pandemic has almost certainly increased the rate of uptake throughout the globe, and brands must assess their own channels to see if they are truly meeting their consumers where they are spending their time.

Tag is the leading end-to-end marketing production partner to brands and agencies worldwide. We help businesses deliver creative marketing campaigns at speed and scale, working closely with clients to create and adapt marketing communications strategies that enable businesses to navigate today’s rapidly changing retail environment.

Schedule a call to discuss how we can support your changing marketing needs.

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