2020 was a year, which one would surely want to erase from their memories. It was a year where humans experienced the most unexpected situations, a year that forced the entire world to sit down and get locked up at homes, a year that has now changed every industry’s whole outlook. A lot has happened in the past year, and due to the entire COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a drastic transformation in consumer behaviour.
This thread, will be discussing how there is a need for redefining the marketing strategies in the new regular, post the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The Current Scenario
The Government has slowly and surely removed the various pandemic-related restrictions, which has led to many businesses re-opening. There are expectations that very soon, things will change back to ‘Normal’. During the entire months of isolation and lockdown, businesses have been writing the new future for themselves and brainstorming on developing more unique marketing strategies.
The Changing Times
Currently, there is a need to have a closer look towards the future of insights on how the marketers will be required to navigate the entire marketing environment. With rapidly falling click rates and conversions, the marketers will have to completely alter the existing tactics of taking out insights and focus more on the digital platforms and social media websites to ensure they build a strong and loyal online community. Businesses will have to focus on building awareness in the similar direction, keeping the ‘New’ Normal in mind. A very important factor to keep in mind is that consumers have now learnt to live without spending a lot. Hence, marketers will have to portray their brand’s product or service to play with the consumers’ minds and push them to spend money.
Marketers have to come up with breath taking strategies, which not only urge the consumers to buy the product or a service, but also help in adding a certain value in their everyday lives. It is not the product or a service that needs to be revamped, but it is the marketing strategies that will have to go an entire transformation to capture the target audience and increase the overall sales and revenue.
In this thread, four changes have been observed on how the marketing industry will have to proceed, followed by the suggestions on how marketers can respond to each of these changes.
Here Is How Marketing Leaders Have Been Setting Up Newer Marketing Strategies in the New Normal:
Shopping – Catching Up with the Digital Transformation to Expand the Digital Platforms
Although the digital wave is not new and has been prevailing in the market for a long time, both businesses and consumers have been choosing their own pace of conversion from offline to online, when it came to shopping. What consumers were vaulting for five years to adapt in the past, in the pandemic consumers, started trusting the digital platforms within eight weeks. Consumers have been turning to digital platforms and using contact-less shopping products or getting their hands on the services across India. Social commerce is prevailing, with almost 34% of the people shopping on Instagram, based on the influencers’ suggestions or recommendations.
As per prevailing situations, this shift is surely going to sustain for a longer duration, because of the simple fact – eCommerce is cheaper, faster, more convenient and also a safer option for the consumers to shop. The social distancing norms remain the same; shopping from physical stores will not be a viable option.
Consumers throughout the world are now inclined towards online shopping. For marketers, this situation means that they need to rethink how to manage the entire data and use it to personalize different offers, messages and touch upon the customer sentiments. In current times, businesses will have to use analytics to set up marketing strategies. Existing analytics model cannot be used as they may not be that accurate in predicting consumer behaviours in the ‘new normal’.
If appropriately used by the businesses, the data can help them expand their digital platforms’ borders, further creating better shopping experiences for the consumers. Another implication for the marketers is that the state of mind of the consumers’ needs to be kept in mind. Currently, at home, consumers are in a very comfortable state of mind and are quite free to take their time and add things to their cart.
E-Services – The New Platforms of Services to Help Consumers
In the past years, there has been a rise in the service industry, and marketers took this opportunity to set their marketing strategies. Industries such as media and entertainment have witnessed a higher penetration. Due to the entire COVID-19 Pandemic, people have been using online platforms to increase products and services. These consumers are now looking forward to getting all the services online with just a click of a button. For instance, telemedicine’s have increased rapidly.
Consumers have shown a significant amount of confidence by using e-services in larger numbers. Due to this change of mindset, marketers have now found this opportunity and a platform that allows them to find new connections with their target audiences. One of the primary factors to keep in mind regarding formulating the marketing strategies is to create a strong bond with the existing and potential customers. The point to note is, consumers today are looking forward to an enhanced shopping experience. As and how the services increase, it will become essential for the marketers to think hard about their brands’ role in the platforms of interconnected services.
For instance, the food industry marketers can collaborate with the platforms of e-health or fitness companies running online and cross-promote the brands. The most significant advantage of this collaboration would be that brands would reach a wider audience in less time. Another example could be when a home buyer platform collaborates with mortgage or bill-forwarding services to provide a holistic experience to the consumers. The point is today; consumers have become lazy and demanding. They would eventually want to go with service providers who provide them with multiple services under one head.
Home – A Central Place for All the Activities
The COVID-19 crisis has made our homes a multifunctional hub. People eat, drink, sleep, work, exercise, shop, learn etc in the comfort of their home. This will continue, as various multi-channels are now switching to a work from home set up, to reap multiple benefits attached to it.
Hence, consumers now have been searching for at home entertainment to give themselves break from the hustle-bustle. Since, consumers have cut down on their expenditure, which has happened naturally, they have added purchasing power to spend on multiple things that could make them happy. As per various researches, it has been claimed that there is almost 10% increase in the online streaming and also a 13% increase in the online gaming, and these percentages are likely to go up only.
Marketers from different industries, sectors or genres need to develop home activities that consumers could engage with through their smartphones. This is time for the marketers to think out of the box and think of how they can deliver the desired message to the customer’s TV, phone, tablet, laptop etc. Moreover, marketers will also have to rethink their media mix across multiple channels such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, video games etc. The primary issue with the marketers is the entire ‘Homebody Economic’ – that is integrating the services or products that are anchored at home. Hence, marketers do need to go through an entire ecosystem mind change and then think of different strategies.
Community – Local Experiences
Due to the near shutdown of the world, the entire community has given huge importance to the local neighbourhoods. There have been many new pages on Facebook, or Instagram started by businesses to connect the travellers with the local people and multi-aid groups. Businesses from any genre, who are in the dire space to increase their connection with the audience can reap the benefits by simply localizing their product or service. This could be done by sending out tailored messages to different communities and could be delivered through the established community networks or even some of the existing networks such as:
- Hosting community events
- Sponsor community events
- Support of local businesses
Indians now prefer the brands or services that are ‘Local’. Hence the marketers need to revolve their marketing strategies around localization. Managing the entire hyper-local engagement would need the marketers to rewrite not just their operating model but also the marketing models to provide a huge granular presence. This approach would require an extreme amount of ‘Personalization’, including trigger-based messaging, test and learn approach etc. with the consumers. This approach requires the marketers to think about scaling up their content and at the same time managing the performance. For the marketers, they are standing out amongst the other brands by blending to the consumers’ mindset and changing the strategies accordingly.
Written By : Dr. Swapnarag Swain
Designation : Assistant Professor – Marketing,
Chairperson – Admissions
Dr. Swapnarag Swain is a recipient of PGDHHM (Hospital & Healthcare Management) from Symbiosis, Pune and holds a Ph. D from Utkal University. He possesses valuable experience of more than 10 years in academics and industry combined. He has been associated with highly reputed academic institutions like T.A. Pai Management Institute (TAPMI), Manipal, NALSAR-Hyderabad, and National Law University (NLU), Odisha.