Reimagining Marketing Post-COVID

Some of the lessons marketers have learned in the past year will be invaluable as waves of the pandemic continue, and eventually, the world discovers a new normal. 

Unprecedented and unimaginable were thrown around in 2020. At every turn, marketers found ways to adapt to these new circumstances. 

As a vaccine begins circulation in many areas of the world, the question is whether these lessons will matter as things will continue to change. One of the most important things for marketers right now, the biggest lesson learned, is that those who adapt quickly will be the ones to come out on top.

Below we outline some of the lessons learned in the first wave. Those lessons that likely will stick around in a similar form even after a new “normal” is established.

Consumer-Focused/ Humanizing 

During the initial surge, consumers looked for empathy from the brands and businesses they engaged with to not sugar coat the reality. This went beyond the now overused “We are all in this together” slogans. 

McKinsey suggests that your company’s priority needs to be customer care and concern before figuring out how to meet their needs with your product or service. “The first step in caring is to reach out—not in marketing or overt attempts to gain a competitive edge, but to offer genuine support.” These interactions have been helpful to people in the short-term, and post-COVID, consumers and clients will remember compassion over marketing efforts and choose to maintain those relationships.

2020 caused many to pause and reevaluate who they are marketing to and why. There needs to be a balance of the data-driven model and the ability to see your customers as people with unique interests. 

64 percent of customers choose to buy from socially responsible brands - McKinsey research

Mondelez decided to create a campaign around “humanizing” their customers but experienced backlash after attempting to capitalize on the concept of treating consumers like people. 

Marketing teams needed the reminder this year that sales come from people and people need to be treated as people and not numbers. 

Focusing on creating lasting relationships with individuals should be a priority before engaging in a sales or partnership opportunity. Understanding and “humanizing” your customers and clients should be an internal discussion that your marketing team has while creating your strategies, not necessarily a statement within your strategy.

Data Collection

While there is a renewed understanding that marketers need to reach their customers’ needs on a personal level, data is increasingly necessary to understand where and how to approach your audience.

The digital landscape’s oversaturation will make it more important than ever to know where your audience is. Companies will need razor-like precision on their targeting to ensure that their audience is receiving their communications.

As concerns over privacy and personal data increase, companies will need to find a data collection method that meets their audience’s needs while respecting their privacy online. 

Whether that may be API integration or the data in Google’s “sandbox” or something else entirely, being transparent about how you collect and use your customer data is going to be carried over and become exponentially important post-COVID. 

As we have stated in a previous blog, Leveraging analytics in today’s environment opens up opportunities for your organization to flex your predictive powers to both your internal stakeholders and clients. Understanding and using data properly and safely will be a necessary pillar that continues to stand for years to come.

Retail e-commerce sales jumped from a 3.8% increase in April 2019 to a record high of 11.4% in April 2020. - Statistics Canada

Highly Targeted, Digital Focus

The focus on digital, particularly on using e-commerce will continue to grow at a steady rate that marketers will need to catch up with and continue to follow. Integrating ecommerce and new technologies into your company’s strategy is important in keeping up with your audience’s interests and meeting them where they want to be.

During the pandemic, consumers have had to focus on essentials as their financials may have been diminished. As the second or third waves start to reduce, there may be a shift in the desires of consumers as seen at the end of the first wave and the increase in luxury sales in China in May and June. The pandemic created a unique, worldwide, buyers’ journey where people across the world have been consuming in the same way and keeping entertained in the same way. After the world finds a new normal this is something that will shatter as people’s lives become different again, however, it’s likely this has impacted consumers’ mindset worldwide on what they need versus what they want.