No one could foresee that a virus could completely change our lives. It was entirely unpredictable. But when the pandemic hit, businesses had to shift their strategies fast and find new ways to distribute goods and services. It became survival of the fittest. Marketing, as we all knew it, had changed entirely.
Australia has had some of the strictest lockdowns in the world in an effort to suppress or eliminate Coronavirus. We have avoided the health catastrophe, but it’s been at a massive cost to businesses.
Over time, the marketing world has adapted to the new environment. As a result of Covid, some companies saw it necessary to invest in additional marketing, reposition, and pivot. However, although the way they do business changed, their goals remained the same.
Marketers know that there is one thing that will never change, and that is the fundamentals of what makes a good brand. Therefore, many businesses continued with optimised marketing activities that promote their brand and grow their businesses, but with more focus on customers than ever before.
If the pandemic changed marketing for good, then what does the future look like for marketing? Are marketers going to build their brands by investing in customer service and customer experience? Is digital marketing, eCommerce stores, websites and apps going to remain the priority? Does “for good” mean for the best or permanently? We are yet to find out.
Here are some of the major changes and trends that emerged since the pandemic that look like they are going to stick around for some time.
Acceleration of eCommerce and Digital Marketing
The pandemic has changed the behaviour of consumers. No longer do people need to go shopping outside of the comfort of their homes. Instead, everything they need is within a click. But what does this mean for businesses that don’t have a strong online presence or eCommerce platforms? Unfortunately, they instantly fall behind their competitors.
Since traditional advertising has shifted to online advertising, companies had to implement new digital technologies to survive.
As more and more people are looking for and buying products and services online, e-sales are reaching unprecedented proportions. As a result, consumers who used digital and omni-channel services during the pandemic will likely continue to do so in the future.
Marketing Teams Working Remotely
Due to lockdowns, social distancing, restrictions and other measures during the pandemic, many businesses had to create a new working environment remotely and, more recently, a hybrid working environment. However, the new way of doing business didn’t stop marketers from offering value and building trust with their customers. The use of digital tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet helped tremendously with the in-office to remote work transition.
Social Distancing Impacting Retail
While many savvy online companies used social distancing to their advantage and made record sales during the pandemic, physical retail didn’t have a good year. Many big shopping centres were closed, and retailers were left wondering whether things would go back to normal for them.
Since there was no business and rents had to be paid, it took an even heavier toll on retailers. Such an example is Scentre Groups, a major retailer, who had to close their stores in all Westfield centres due to rental disputes with Noni B and Strandbags. However, after implementing new strategies, marketing planning and concepts to adapt to the “new normal”, many retailers came back even stronger than before the pandemic.
We are all witnesses to the post-Covid changes in consumer spending and behaviour. For example, during the peak of the pandemic, people were scared and didn’t know what to expect. As a result, they started stockpiling groceries and buying long shelf life, canned and boxed food.
Consumers began to value businesses that did something good for the society and environment during the pandemic. This change in behaviour is probably here to stay, and that is great! Companies will make products that will positively impact our planet.
But among these changes in habits, hygiene and food safety was consumer’s number one priority. So now, more than ever, companies need to build trust with their customers.
When it comes to a pandemic affecting your business, there are so many variables to think about. How long will it last? Is there enough capital to survive months of lost profit? How can businesses change their strategies to adapt and compensate?
As we all know, many businesses were lost during the pandemic because they were not prepared for such an event. But now, because of Covid, enterprises of all sizes are restructuring their economic planning. They have begun looking at tighter budgets, focusing on internet marketing and long term money management, which could initially slow economic recovery and growth.
Restrictions on Travel and Losing International Markets
International travel restrictions didn’t just affect major airlines and cruise ships. No doubt, tourism, leisure and accommodation sectors took a major hit and were bleeding revenue.
However, travel restrictions also impacted local industries.
Recovering is going to be a long journey for the travel industry, as well as industries that rely on transient visitors. None more than hospitality.
But the restriction on travel also brought about some positive outcomes for many companies, who turned to digital solutions and business going via virtual platforms. As a result of the pandemic, the international business travel budget was cut and energy consumption was reduced, as were travel emissions and fixed costs.
Tight Marketing Budgets
Many businesses had to create new strategies and plans to adapt to the “new normal” and optimise their ROI. This meant cutting their marketing budget. The good news is that strategic marketing can be done even on a budget. But creating a marketing strategy on a tight marketing budget means having to be more creative, which is why good management is more important than ever.
Moving forward, many of these marketing trends are going to stay for good as they will be necessary for survival. Companies must keep evolving and adapting to the new marketing world to keep up with strong competition.
“Throughout our history, every major disruption that we’ve studied leads to some reshuffling brands. Even in normal times, when there are big changes in normal households, it tends to shuffle the brand loyalty deck,” says Scott McDonald, president and CEO of the Advertising Research Federation.
The world as we know it has changed, but that also means we learned how to adapt to the new environment as fast as we could. The aim now is to be better than ever before.