COVID-19 certainly has changed the world we live and operate in and probably will continue to for some time. Three key marketing trends have emerged in 2020 and these trends are helping to shape a way forward. Beyond the lockdowns and economic uncertainty, there are some really interesting ways that brands and organisations can and are adapting to the challenges this new environment poses.
Fine-tuning online experience
E-commerce is very clearly booming in 2020. Safety-conscious, home-based consumers have driven a huge up-take in online purchases, social shopping, ‘click and collect’ and shopping-enabled apps. There has also been increased consumer confidence and uptake of e-services such as online education, telehealth and online house auctions. McKinsey predicts that more e-service ‘ecosystems’ featuring complimentary service offerings are likely to emerge in the latter-half of 2020 e.g. online auctions being partnered with mortgage and moving services.
Brands that have invested in seamless e-commerce and quality user experience are being rewarded as new customers flock online. Woolworths is a good example of traditional retailer that has benefited from enhancements to their online experience. Upgrades to their mobile apps and e-commerce functionality, plus a strong rewards program have helped meet the changing needs of their consumers. In doing so, Woolworths has experienced a near-100% increase in online capacity as well as taking the lion’s-share of online grocery shopping in Australia since March.
An important stage for brands who are following this marketing trend is to understand the changes that Coronavirus has made to their customer’s transactional journey and to adapt to them quickly and effectively. Brands have had to rapidly re-think their usual mode of interaction and servicing. One way of tracking and responding to new consumer behaviours will be through the use of digital analytics at an increasingly granular level. Organisations should invest in the analysis of key customer behaviour, social and online touchpoint data as well as understanding sector-related consumer behaviour trends and patterns.
Get it right and your brand can capitalise on the rapid uptake of online services. On the other hand, a poor (or non-existent) online experience can be disastrous, as we saw with Primark, one of the UK’s largest fashion retailers. With no e-commerce offering, Primark’s sales plummeted from £650m per month to £0 when bricks-and-mortar stores were forced to close during the COVID lockdown.
Fine-tuning online experience doesn’t have to be expensive. Small steps will still ensure that you are guiding your brand and your customers in the right direction. Websites can be updated in stages and work can be undertaken with different budget levels in mind in order to provide improved digital tools, features, navigation and functionality. Website reviews and user experience (UX) studies are also just some of the ways brands can improve their customer’s experience.
Create value and build trust
It’s time for brands to return to marketing fundamentals and put customers back at the heart of everything they do. According to Global Marketing analytics service WARC, one of the key marketing trends for 2020 is that interactions are less transactional and more about security, trust and service delivery.
The majority of customers are not interested in anything that sounds like they are being told to ‘buy’ or ‘act now’. Successful brands have been focusing on conveying trust in their marketing and ensuring their communications focus on providing value and being helpful during the crisis.
To do this, brands need to ensure they understand their customer’s journey and experience and that high quality, well thought-out content and resources are developed and made readily available across a variety of touchpoints. A recent Hubspot report (covering Feb-Apr) showed that whilst emails to customers have risen significantly, they have also seen a large increase in customer engagement with emails (so people obviously seeking guidance and helpful content).
More than just marketing trends, value and trust should be front and centre in all brand message and activity. 2020 provides an opportunity for organisations to build strong and lasting relationships with consumers.
Tresillian, for example, has created value for stressed and worried parents by launched the free SleepWellBaby App at the start COVID-19. This provided their audience with peace-of-mind during a stressful period, as well as an added layer of safety by allowing families to self-refer to access their services (referral previously required a GP).
Bunnings Warehouse took a benevolent approach launching advertising that showed ways shoppers could stay safe whilst in store (see below). Having staff and customers wearing face masks also builds trust in-store safety.
Be fast, focussed and creative
Brands who have encouraged creativity and innovation seem to be coping well in a sea of constant changes and fresh challenges. Pivoting and adapting has become vital in the new world of COVID-19 but the best results will come from focussed, not just fast.
Creative and nimble solutions are helping charities to find their voice amongst all the chatter about Coronavirus. Red Nose Australia has adapted to the current climate with some simple, yet innovative measures. They are raising much-needed funds through the sale of Australia’s first charity face mask and are driving awareness online through digital ‘red nose’ Facebook and Instagram filters.
The ability to make those ‘outside of the box’ decisions in a smart but speedy way no matter what the internal obstacles has ensured success for many who have adopted this marketing trend. Whether it’s Birdseye who upscaled production early on in order to meet demand as the pandemic ramped up or our financial recruitment client Moir Group who has utilised online discussion group forums instead of their usual calendar of finance industry focused events, these decisions were made with speed and ingenuity. A sure sign of what is required in the hopefully impending post COVID-19 world.
Some brands are aware of the need to change, but are fearful of making a wrong move at such a critical juncture. Qualitative research is an effective way of developing a deeper understanding of customer pain points and ‘new normal’ needs. Having research-backed insights generated in the current environment can help brands capitalise on current marketing trends and find a new pathway forward in 2020.
Do you have a post COVID-19 business problem or concern? Would you like to learn how your organisation can capitalise on these marketing trends? Contact us for a free consultation, we would love to hear from you!