How to effectively market your business during the Coronavirus and beyond
Marketing your business to a new world
The most effective marketing strategies are not set in stone. They're flexible and always adjusting to the changing needs of customers. This is especially important now with the Coronavirus pandemic drastically changing consumer behavior within a short period of time.
In this post we break down the latest consumer trends to help you market your business most effectively during the Coronavirus pandemic and beyond.
Top 8 business trends initiated by the Coronavirus
The Coronavirus pandemic is creating some fascinating changes in consumer behavior. These changes mean that you might need to modify your business solution before sharpening your marketing tactics.
If your business solution is not relevant to your target audience, even the world's top marketing gurus cannot help you sell a single product. The trends below should also help you reevaluate the relevance of your business solutions in this new economic climate.
Trend #1: Consumers are shopping in stores less, but they haven't abandoned them.
Online shopping habits are on the rise. This is not an innovative trend, over the last few years more and more consumers have been preferencing online shopping over brick and mortar stores.
According to the latest results from Prosper Insights & Analytics March monthly survey of over 7,800 consumers, post Coronavirus pandemic, less people are shopping in brick and mortar stores.
This isn't a surprising trend. What is surprising though is that everyone hasn't completely transitioned into the online shopping model.
There are two highly plausible reasons for this.
One is that by physically going to the store, customers are instantly getting their products (if they're in stock) without waiting for delivery. The delivery of online purchases has been greatly affected by the Coronavirus, with some deliveries being delayed for up to a month, so even avid online shoppers are being forced to head down to the store.
The other reason is that many shoppers prefer to examine each product before adding them to their cart to ensure they are choosing the highest quality items.
If brick and mortar stores want to effectively service their customers during the Coronavirus outbreak and through any future outbreaks, they need to adjust their online shopping experience to accommodate for these variables.
To ensure their future relevance, brick and mortar stores should invest in the research and development of more innovative delivery options that can service a larger volume of customers at a faster rate. Some examples include drone delivery services and autonomous delivery trucks. These delivery solutions are already being developed and will eventually revolutionize the future online shopping experience.
To accommodate for the requirement of physically examining items before purchasing them, augmented reality technology could be integrated into either a mobile shopping app or a website
This technology is already beginning to surface across different shopping industries and it's forecast to explode in popularity in the near future.
Here are some fascinating examples of AR tech in ecommerce:
Sephora's virtual artist allows customers to see a realistic depiction of how they would look in different makeup options.
Amikassa is a 3D floorplanner that allows users to design a virtual home using furniture from real brands,
Ikea developed an exciting augmented reality experience that allows users to virtually place any catalogue products into their home to test their aesthetic compatibility.
If all brick and mortar stores had a strong online shopping solution, it would have possibly prevented the closure of over 15,000 stores as a result of the Coronavirus.
Besides the advantage of being more resilient to future pandemics, the average online shopping order is also higher than comparative purchases in stores, so its high profitability will also help businesses weather future recessions.
Grocery stores are under the most pressure to innovate their online shopping and delivery solutions since their archaic online shopping funnels almost burst from the unexpected demand amidst the Coronavirus.
This is a fantastic opportunity for entrepreneurs to come up with a business idea that could help grocers evolve their online shipping and delivery experience.
Trend #2: Retailers are moving away from an on-demand inventory model
While keeping inventory levels low is a great way to cut overheads costs during a recession, this strategy does not support sudden spikes in consumer demand, as is currently evident by the empty toilet paper shelves in stores globally.
Ronen Lazar, CEO and co-founder of the inventory management software INTURN, says retailers need to find a balance between a lean inventory and meeting sudden surges in demand.
"The current crisis highlights the need for retailers and manufacturers to improve their digital supply chain operations to better balance the desire for lean inventories with the need to be ready for surges in demand. This really should be a strong signal for many to be better prepared should something similar happen [in the future],” he said.
One way retailers can find this balance is by reshoring all manufacturing operations. This will reduce lead in time which supports a lean inventory model while keeping shelves nice and plump with stock.
If you have sufficient stock to service your customers, you should prominently display this information on your website home page, to sway prospective customers, and also in email newsletters to consolidate existing customers.
Trend #3: Value > Pricing. Even in panic mode.
Because Coronavirus panic buyers have caused a global deficit of essential items in stores, consumers are turning to alternative shopping sources, even if it means they'll be paying a lot more than they normally would. This is known as the product substitute effect.
Of course this isn't a suggestion to unfairly hike up prices to take advantage of increased demand, such unethical behavior will give your business an unpleasant reputation. It does, however, highlight that consumers are willing to pay more for higher quality products, even during a crisis.
Who Gives a Crap, a social enterprise that donates half of its toilet paper sales to providing toilets and sanitation solutions in impoverished areas, sell their toilet paper for almost double the amount you'd pay at Walmart, yet amidst the toilet paper panic buying session, its sales jumped by a whopping 1000%!
So if you're planning to set yourself apart from your competitors by drastically lowering your prices, it may not be the wisest strategy, it could actually end up backfiring.
An increasing number of face mask scams is causing consumers to become highly skeptical of items that are too cheap.
Instead of lowering your prices, and therefore devaluing your products, you should focus your efforts on increasing the value your products provide your consumers.
Trend #4: Consumers are more skeptical
Because this spike in online scams is creating a new wave of highly skeptical consumers, businesses need to place a greater emphasis on demonstrating their integrity and trustworthiness.
This is best achieved through customer testimonials, ideally video, since they are the most difficult to fabricate.
Most scammers avoid phone calls so you should make phone conversations a readily available option for prospective customers. This will also demonstrate your first rate customer service and therefore the superior value of your product, which will result in a natural referral process.
The skepticism of consumers during the Coronavirus has not only been triggered by online scams, there has been a spike in cyber attacks with hackers intercepting remote collaboration software. The video conferencing solution Zoom is the most notable example of this with hackers infiltrating meetings with racial slurs and pornography.
Software solutions, therefore, need to adjust their marketing strategies to position their security measures as a major selling point. It doesn't matter how sophisticated a solution is, if there is any chance of a security loophole it will not sell. Online security is especially an important factor for businesses since most have now adopted a remote workforce model.
Trend #5: Loss aversion psychology is very powerful marketing
The fear of the unknown and the prospect of not having the option of buying the items you need when you need them has been the self feeding mechanism that caused the global buying pandemonium.
As people continued to clear grocery shelves, the prospect of stock running out became more of a reality which encouraged more and more people to clear grocery shelves.
This behavior is explained by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky’s “loss aversion” principle which in an economic context could be defined as spending that's fuelled by the feeling that you're missing out on something if you don't take action.
Retailers did not need to explicitly market the consequences of running low on essential items to encourage sales, in fact, marketing campaigns didn't initiate the panic buying process, consumers fell victim to the fear they conjured within themselves.
This highlights two important points about effective marketing strategy in this climate:
1. Since we are still at the tail end of the panic buying season so consumers are still highly sensitive to loss aversion psychology.
2. The concept of loss aversion is an extremely powerful marketing tactic. It's so powerful, infact, that it requires little to no prompting, consumers are naturally inclined to make the connection in their minds.
So if you're confident that your business solution can help a prospective customer flourish during the Coronavirus, focus on highlighting the consequences of not buying your solution, it may initiate a healthy dose of loss aversion anxiety that results in a sale.
Trend #6: Consumers are hungry for entertainment (more than ever)
Entertainment has always been a highly profitable industry, but now, with most of the world in isolation, the dependence on stay at home entertainment is escalating.
Here are some interesting facts amid the Coronavirus:
Disney has sped up the release of Frozen 2 and Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker in an attempt to win over a large share of the market.
Video gaming is up by 75%
Netflix traffic has hit an all time high
Consumers are yearning for a distraction from all the news flooding their feeds and they're willing to consider any option that might help with that.
This is a fantastic marketing opportunity for businesses to create highly engaging and highly entertaining content. This should include social media posts as well as other dedicated marketing projects.
The options are numerous, but if you want to give your business the greatest competitive advantage you should focus on an industry with the highest retention rate. Gaming.
Gaming has always eclipsed other entertainment categories, and it's not hard to figure out why. They're a lot more exciting because users are challenging themselves rather than just sitting back and watching a screen.
The rise of the gaming industry has led to an innovative form of marketing known as gamification. Gamification the application of a gaming framework to a non-gaming context.
One of the most popular applications of gamification is fitness apps. Fitness apps turn regular exercising into a game by celebrating completed sets and rewarding users as they level up their progress.
Coming up with a gamification concept is easy. Simply identify a problem your target audience struggles with then create a mobile app solution for it that's fun to use and encourages users to solve that problem. It doesn't need to be an actual game per se (such as mario kart or donkey kong) but rather an entertaining tool to use.
Here are some examples.
If you work in finance, you could develop a mobile app that helps users keep track of all of their receipts. You could include a scoring system that helps users monitor the transactions they've consolidated.
If you're an interior designer, you could create an app that allows users to decorate a virtual home subject to different styling conditions.
If you're not a skilled mobile app developer, you can simply hire one to create your app for you.
The beauty of gamification is that you have complete control over your conversion strategies. Leads could either be promoted to contact you after they complete a certain level or you could send them push notifications at any time with custom marketing messages.
While gaming is the most entertaining form of marking it isn't your only option. A highly engaging ebook or blog post can be an extremely entertaining prospect to leads seeking intellectual stimulation.
Trend #7: Out of home ad spending is decreasing
Because more of the world is now spending a majority of their time indoors, out of home ad spending is likely to heavily decrease over time.
The ROI of billboard campaigns has always been questionable and may even become obsolete as businesses conform to the new trend of stay at home consumers.
So if you want to market your business through advertising campaigns, focus on digital platforms.
But before you inject all of your marketing budget into the highly saturated social media advertising market, consider some of the less popular yet highly lucrative options such as podcast advertising.
Podcast are growing in popularity so a highly engaging podcast advertising campaign will not only offer your stay at home audience the entertainment they are craving but it will also expose your business to an immense untapped audience.
Trend #8: We are entering an empathy revolution
The darkness of the Coronavirus creates a stark contrast to the random acts of kindness in the community, causing them to shine brighter than ever.
These stories instantly produce a flurry of sharing activity on social media because the world responds positively when we all love one another.
This should encourage businesses not to be purely opportunistic in their marketing strategies but rather to adjust their approach to the changing needs of customers while being sensitive to their struggles.
Demonstrate to your consumers that you truly care for their wellbeing during this crisis, this could involve special discounts or even tailoring a bespoke solution to cater to each individual's financial situation.
In a world where online scammers are taking advantage of those that are desperately trying to sustain themselves, consumers will be drawn towards businesses that demonstrate sincere empathy.
The Coronavirus is drastically changing the way consumers respond to marketing tactics. To ensure your business continues to win over customers in this new world, you need to align your marketing strategies with the new pain points, desires and even fears of your evolved audience.
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