There is no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought the world to a grinding halt. While this has massively affected economies, it has also brought a huge shift in consumer purchases and how they respond to brands. .
Since March 2020, with majority of the world facing partial or complete shutdown, we are seeing a rise of the “new normal”.
Consider these new behaviours:
– constantly wearing a face mask
– Increase in the number of times one washes hands
– Social distancing
– Working from home and
– Connected more via video calls in a week than in the past 5 years.
What is also undeniable is a dramatic increase in internet ad social media usage. With social distancing, people are connecting more and more online. WhatsApp and Facebook have seen nearly 70% increase. YouTube, TikTok and Instagram are not far behind (source). Ad campaign impressions on TikTok and Instagram are have seen nearly 25% increase in their impressions (source).
As Albert Einstein famously put it –
“In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity”.
This is an ideal time for companies to build their brand equity, if they understand what consumers are looking for.
Shifts in consumer and societal behaviour, also warrant a shift in digital marketing strategies.
Here are 5 ways on how brands can adapt their digital and social media marketing activities to this lockdown, to the new normal and shift in consumer behaviour patterns.
1. Show up and get creative:
Business might have dulled, but now is not the time to slack off on Social media. In fact, it is the best time to focus on capitalizing organic social media.
With engagement levels at an all time high, consumers are looking at brands that continue to show their resilience during this trying times. Get creative. Showcase how your brand is actively making a difference in the community. You may not need to post multiple times in your social media. However, the posts you make need to be more engaging and connect with the consumer sentiment.
Nearly 1 in 3 consumers, a whopping 33%, have stopped others from using a brand that they felt was not acting appropriately in response to the pandemic.
It doesn’t matter which industry you are in. If there ever was an opportunity to stand up, collaborate with others and contribute your services, now is the time.
For instance, Ferrari (in Italy) and Mahindra & Mahindra (in India), are currently building respirators and ventilators to help health workers in Italy and India. While this may be possible with bigger brands, smaller companies can also contribute in their own way. For instance, software companies can identify the needs of their local administration during this lock down and build a software that supports the requirement.
3. Provide solutions
Nearly 90% of the consumers want brands to protect employees and suppliers and also offer products that can help people in the current situation. It is not the time to blatantly “sell” your products and services.
A very powerful instance of solutioning was noticed in the case of a leading brand in healthcare. During Feb-March, as the epidemic was spreading, most people in the country took notice of 1 brand from the healthcare segment. Dettol, in its digital and print media, simply encouraged people to stay safe by washing hands with ANY soap – not just their brand. They even went a step ahead to mention a few other competitor brands in their ad copies.
Consumers want to know that the brands have a human side too. Brands can take on roles of being an educator or a valid information resource or use social media to provide the much needed emotional connect. Such personal attachment drives up user trust and engagement with your organization.
4. Don’t sell
People can easily sniff out brands and organizations looking to profit from this crisis. Blatent sales, affiliate or marketing links are becoming a huge turnoff. In fact, a recent survey revealed that 71% of respondents would lose trust in a brand forever if they felt the brand was trying to take advantage of people for profit.
One of the best ways for brands to be selfless is to offer their product or service for free. While the “free” offer could stand for a limited period, it definitely ups the ante to increase brand trust, website traffic and social media engagement for the business. This could later on lead to higher conversions too. Of course, budgets are tight now, however, it is worth considering which product or service can genuinely be offered free for a limited time, so that users can benefit out of it.
5. Be compassionate in your messaging
It is NOT business as usual. Therefore, our messaging needs to communicate this sentiment too. In one of the recent surveys, nearly 57% of the consumers felt that brands should stop advertising or marketing that is humorous or too light-hearted in tone.
The same survey highlighted that 84% of the people wanted brands to focus their advertising on how products or services can help people cope in this crisis and 77% of them wanted brands to showcase that they were aware of the crisis and its impact on people’s lives.
This being said, the type of imagery and content used in ads during this period are impacting purchase behaviour. Ads with actions such as hugging, kissing or any physical closeness is being frowned upon and negatively influencing peoples’ purchases. What’s more acceptable are ads that are showcasing social distancing scenarios.
During this time of crisis, people are turning to brands that they trust the most. Also, for businesses, this is the best time to build their brand equity. How brands showcase their digital presence today, will majorly influence how consumers perceive them even after the crisis.