It’s officially happening. Around the world, social distancing measures aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) are lifting. Economies are gradually reopening after spending weeks on lockdown. And little by little, businesses and service providers are starting up again.
Too much, too soon?
That’s the first question for many cautious observers. There are no easy answers, because the pace and extent of reopening measures differ radically from country to country; sometimes even from city to city. Meanwhile, businesses are under pressure to find their place in a ‘new normal’ that is only just emerging; many unsure what to expect in the aftermath of the pandemic.
What to expect, after coronavirus, is basically: less of everything. Less consumer confidence, with market analysists expecting up to a 50 percent decline in discretionary consumer spending after the crisis. Amid the economic uncertainty, household savings in Europe and the United States have reached the highest level since 1981.
Also expect less in-person interactions, as entire spending categories are pivoting to e-commerce. First in line, online grocery shopping has been boosted by the pandemic. Major grocers in the UK have added more than 500,000 delivery slots within the past few weeks, a 30 percent increase.
On that note, expect less superfluous spending. Moving forward, consumers will allocate more money towards essential items. And they demand more quality (60 percent), durability (43 percent), and timeless brands (50 percent). It’s already clear that coronavirus has forever changed the way we shop (for more details, read our blog post).
Most of all, expect these changes to be permanent. An overwhelming 47.7 percent of U.S. internet users intend to retain behavioral changes caused by the coronavirus pandemic in the long term. In a world not only decelerated, but downright stopped in its tracks by COVID-19, value sets have forever shifted.
This ‘new normal’ calls for more than temporary adjustments on behalf of companies. It calls for a complete mind shift. Something different than the pre-pandemic focus on more – more reach, more growth, more conversions. Instead, businesses need to find a way to go back to B.A.S.I.C.
We’ve created a new infographic to highlight aspects of the new B.A.S.I.C. after COVID-19, which consists of the following elements: Business Sense, Accountability, Stress Reduction, Inspiration, and Customer-First Marketing. In combination, these essential values will help businesses move forward together with both their customers as well as their employees.
No other event in recent history has disrupted business models like the COVID-19 outbreak. Entire industries such as travel, hospitality, and restaurants have flatlined in the aftermath. At the same time, businesses are finding ways to innovate and adjust their way out of the crisis, while realigning their value propositions.
Perform a deep assessment of how your business can adjust to the post-COVID-19 reality. Which parts of your offering are still relevant and how can you deliver them now? Into which segments could you expand to serve new sets of consumer needs? In a successful pivot, Chicago-based pizzeria chain Home Run Inn had to close all restaurants due to the pandemic, but now churns out 80,000 frozen pizzas per day and could sell double(!) if capacity existed. New York City’s Eleven Madison Park, one of the world’s most-renowned fine-dining establishments, pivoted to deliver meals to hospital workers and others in need as the city combatted the virus, becoming perhaps “the most expensive commissary kitchen in the history of food service,” according to a Rolling Stone report.
Amid a tense social climate, negative news about safety hazards for delivery drivers, warehouse workers, and other frontline employees are stirring debate. In the process, consumers are not only demanding more value and transparency from their products, but also increasingly take a stand on social issues – and cancel brands who fall short of safeguarding their workforce.
The aftermath of COVID-19 creates a customer dialogue in which businesses must communicate at eye level. They need to be transparent about measures taken to protect their workforce, their business partners and their customers. This also means practicing empathy and accommodating for financial hardships via extended payment plans or return policies, while supporting social change initiatives (read more about how brands make a difference in a time of uncertainty).
The coronavirus pandemic has caused anxiety on many levels; from the direct fear of contracting the virus to the isolating impact of social distancing, to financial worries. In turn, 83 percent of consumers report feeling ‘stressed and overwhelmed’ since the arrival of the pandemic. This is where businesses can make a difference by alleviating stress.
Stress reduction can begin by assuring employees and teams that their jobs are secure and business continuity remains intact. Also by providing work-from-home options in the long run, as over 42 percent of U.S. adults would like to continue to work remotely after the pandemic has passed. And stress reduction can mean letting partners know you value their trust and maintain an open ear to their concerns (read more about supporting clients in a time of crisis in our blog story).
Consumers are more stressed and cautious than ever, to no surprise. But brands must not let a pandemic dampen their shine. Consumers look to them to inspire hope and confidence. A spark can come from the most unlikely places, like finding marketing inspiration from the surprise hit TV show ‘Tiger King’ in our story. As we speak, brands are finding new channels – including a major push into live video and intensified investments into AR – to spread their messages. Many use their platform to cultivate a sense of mission and benefit others in need.
The good news is that consumers across the board are listening: An average of over 30 percent want to hear more from brands during the coronavirus pandemic, especially from grocery stores (39 percent) and household companies (33 percent). Companies who can align their business models (see ‘B’) with the new status quo while finding new, digital platforms to delight and inspire are not only surviving, but thriving right now.
Finally, the most important element of returning to B.A.S.I.C. after COVID-19 is adopting a customer-first marketing approach. As the perfect answer to the uncertain and complex realities of COVID-19, Customer-First Marketing inverts the traditional approach to marketing. Instead of starting with the product or communications channel, this strategy focuses first on individual consumers.
With Customer-First Marketing, marketers implement engagement strategies that are based on trust and empathy to ensure that every communication is meaningful and relevant. To deliver this level of customer focus at scale, businesses rely on a combination of accurate customer data and the latest marketing technologies. MarTech tools include artificial intelligence to drive personalization and anticipate consumer needs. And also smart marketing automation with omnichannel reach, to maintain customer engagement on preferred devices.
As the ‘new normal’ after coronavirus takes shape, purchasing habits are permanently changing. So are relationships between brands and consumers. But the B.A.S.I.C. values described here will continue to ring true in a post-coronavirus society.
Moving forward, look to the new marketing landscape as an opportunity to cultivate more authentic consumer relationships.
On that note, make sure to download your free copy of our “Back to B.A.S.I.C.” infographic below. Also, check out our eBook on Customer-First Marketing in the Age of COVID-19, to see how your brand can build relationships based on trust, empathy, and relevance in a disrupted digital marketing landscape.
Bringing Your Business Back to B.A.S.I.C. in the ‘New Normal’
This infographic offers statistics and best practices to help businesses and brands adapt and move forward in a post-COVID-19 world.
Marigold: where relationships take root.