Call it a quarantine, lockdown, shelter-in-place, or a “safer at home” order, unprecedented public health measures forced by the global pandemic drove millions of people around the world into virtual seclusion. During this time, apps and platforms that were once used entirely for entertainment and personal connection have been hijacked for use by digital markers to reach consumers.
However, as the number and severity of COVID-19 cases begins to trend more positively, and some countries and US states are beginning to open back up, these same digital markers are wondering: how different will things look over the next year? Will things go back to normal? How has the novel coronavirus affected consumer behavior? And how will that affect digital marketing attempts to reach a society of consumers that have made significant changes in many areas of ordinary life?
● Retailers are moving away from the on-demand inventory model. Extreme fluctuations in customer demand for everything from home gym equipment, to toilet paper, to hand sanitizer, to hair color, caused many retailers who were caught unaware and understocked to leave money on the table when supply could not meet the demand. Healthcare suppliers were unable to provide adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including disposable masks, isolation gowns, and gloves.
Even though ecommerce, which has exploded in recent years and skyrocketed during lockdown, will always be a fact of modern life, there will likely always be a demand for brick-and-mortar stores. Perhaps surprisingly, some had been trending towards online shopping long before the novel coronavirus locked us in our homes. Some retailers are moving away from ecommerce and building in what supply chain strategists are calling a “plan for uncertainty”.
● Value is greater than low pricing, even in times of crisis. Consumers choose value over lower prices even where there is an uncertain supply. Product lines that sold at a premium price experienced higher demand than less alternatives during the early days of COVID-19, which continued even after things began to normalize. Multiple scams and faulty products peaked during the height of the pandemic, causing consumers to opt for purchasing higher priced items to ensure better quality.
People appear to value getting the product they need and can trust at an elevated price over getting stuck with inferior product they were able to purchase cheaply. Gearing marketing strategy towards improving brand awareness and developing trust is now more valuable than ever.
● Consumers are more skeptical than in the past. Misleading claims and false information were so prevalent during the early days of the pandemic left many people concerned and confused. Conspiracy theories, half-truths, and politically motivated rumors abounded, made worse by the 24-hour news cycle and the additional hours of screen time that became routine for many adults.
Although distrust about “fake news” is now rampant, digital marketers can address these suspicions by using a strategy based on relatable customer experience, interactive content, and a focus on personalization.
● Loss aversion psychology is a powerful marketing tool that is on the rise. Loss aversion describes the tendency of people to strongly prefer to avoid losses rather than acquire gains. Studies show that loss aversion is twice as powerful psychologically as the acquisition of something. The uncertainty that came with COVID-19 really ramped up fear and apprehension, which digital marketers used to drive sales. Expect marketing strategies based on loss aversion to move to the forefront as we move into a post-COVID marketplace.
● Out-of-home ad spending is decreasing. Billboards, signage, and nearly every type of outdoor or non-digital advertisement has seen rapid decline, while all types of online marketing has increased significantly. This trend was accelerated pre-COVID, but has spiked due to increased screen time during quarantines.
Digital marketing has a significant advantage over traditional ads that require space, materials, and other resources. Digital ads allow marketers to leverage live video content– enhanced by AI if needed. Advertising in real-time with video marketing helps create a customer journey with digital touchpoints; content marketing excels because it focuses on the customer experience, interactive content and personalization.