The economic downturn and pandemic directly affected the activities of companies around the world. The business had to make marketing adjustments to keep up with the spirit of the times, compete and grow. How has marketing changed over the past year? What trends can we expect in 2021? There are 5 trends in marketing during the Covid-19 from research.
An important figure appears in the research conducted by RBC Market Research. 51% of interviewed executives said that they would have to restructure the marketing of the company in order to keep the business and get out of the crisis. In terms of the number of changes, the marketing sector took the second place, yielding only to the category “personnel management”. This means one thing: companies are changing their global marketing strategies now and will continue to do so in 2021. Let’s talk about the most significant global trends.
Reduction of expenses for holidays and gifts
According to a McKinsey research, people around the world have already cut and will continue to cut their spending on holidays and gifts. The only exception was China, where respondents spoke about increased spending. Most of those surveyed said they would buy gifts online. For marketers of many companies, this became a difficult task, because they had to have time to find their audience online and establish the sales process too. It was especially difficult for those who previously worked only offline and did not have an active customer base with whom they could work in times of crisis.
What does it mean? Now – it’s time to build a community around your company, even if you haven’t done it before.
For example: new customer service policy was adopted at Walmart ahead of the holiday season from November (Black Friday) to December (Christmas and New Year’s). The company decided to expand the range of products for several categories of buyers:
- For pet owners – this group of buyers has increased significantly during the pandemic.
- For lovers of home entertainment. Now holiday gifts are heavily focused on home entertainment, which means Walmart shoppers will buy more TVs, laptops, video games and accessories.
- For parents with children – Walmart has increased the range of toys and children’s goods (including puzzles, board games and legos).
- For those who love to cook at home. For them, Walmart announced the creation of “Holiday Baking Centers” in its major stores. They represented a wide range of thematic kitchen appliances.
Scott McCall, Executive Vice President and Director of Merchandising at Walmart US, commented on the holiday strategy:
“Over the past six months, our customers have been shopping differently, and we expect this to continue during the most important shopping season of the year – the holidays. We have heard from our customers that many are planning to start their holiday shopping before Black Friday and are looking for gifts that fit their current lifestyle. So we have adjusted our strategy to adapt to these new shopping habits: we offer more of what they want now, sooner than ever, and all at the best prices.”
Trends in marketing during the Covid-19
Chief Marketing Officer became necessary again
Before the pandemic, many companies were cutting this position, replacing it with others: chief business development officer, chief digital officer, etc.
But now, when the world is going through several crises at the same time, it is necessary to make tactical decisions for the company and manage dozens or even hundreds of people in a difficult situation. The position of Chief Marketing Officer was again in demand from companies such as McDonald’s, NatWest and Telstra’s, according to the WARC report.
What does it mean? Marketing circumstances began to change so dramatically and rapidly that many large companies needed a “helmsman” ready to lead the unexpectedly increased scope of work.
For example: the most notable “pandemic” appointments to the position of Chief Marketing Officer in large companies this year are:
- Lowe’s – the appointment of Marisa Tällberg as Chief Marketing officer. Most recently Thalberg worked as Chief Brand Manager at Taco Bell.
- Walmart – William White appointed as Chief Marketing Officer. Before that White was a Senior Vice President of marketing for Target.
- Kimberly-Clark – Zena Arnold has been appointed as Digital Officer. Arnold previously served as Head of the Global Development of Chrome OS at Google.
- DocuSign – Rob Giglio appointed as Chief Marketing Officer. Most recently, Giglio was Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales at Digital Media Adobe.
- WeWork – Roger Solet appointed as Chief Marketing Officer. Sole was previously Chief Marketing Officer at Sprint.
Trends in marketing during the Covid-19
As Marie Gulen-Merle, senior marketer at Google, points out, companies and marketers will have to learn how to react quickly. If earlier it was possible to make one advertising campaign and continue to work with it, now it must take into account the behavior and needs of different groups of people, transform, change upon contact with each group. Brands need to pay more attention to consumers in order to understand how their behavior will change in response to certain trends. Therefore, companies should pay attention to the setting up of internal business processes to reduce bureaucracy and to be able to respond faster to market changes.
What does it mean? Speed is becoming one of the key indicators of effective marketing. All other things being equal, faster marketing will always be more effective.
For example: in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak in China, organic brand Viva Naturals has placed an increasing emphasis on wellness. The company has noticed a knowledge gap among Chinese consumers regarding various health supplements. The brand has launched content campaigns through Alibaba marketing channels that target a variety of healthcare interests and needs. Content campaign included more than 40 blog posts and live broadcasts devoted to a variety of topics ranging from tips on weight loss and ending with a method of increasing vitality. In February thanks to these activities, the brand regained its sales figures, achieving the highest level of daily online sales on March 8, breaking its last year’s record on November 11 (International Discount Day).
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Trends in marketing during the Covid-19
Pack safety into your product
The pandemic has brought fear into the minds of consumers and a desire to protect themselves from an invisible threat by all means. Moreover, this affected both places of direct contact, such as hypermarkets, and goods that are bought online. Therefore, marketers and businesses in general need to prove to customers that their products and services are safe. Companies must demonstrate their compliance with all requirements – from disinfection to contactless delivery, from free masks to transparent production processes.
What does it mean? “Security” – in a broad sense – has become one of the key metrics that marketers have to consider.
For example: at the start of the pandemic, the head of the Philippine McDonald’s reached out to his customers as he was forced to respond to growing consumer concerns about food safety. President and Executive Director Kenneth Young recorded a video message in which he assured that the restaurant is taking all necessary measures to ensure the safety of both its guests and employees, from completely disinfecting kitchen surfaces to measuring the temperature of workers before each shift.
While there is no exact information about how this affected site attendance in the Philippines, McDonald’s is known for strict adherence to rules for all properties, no matter where they are located. Chris Kempchinsk, Chief Executive Officer of McDonald’s in the United States, told Fortune that McDonald’s achieved some of the best business performance in its history in September 2020. This became possible thanks to the strategy, which the company called “Three D” (drive, delivery and digital) – it allowed the company to survive after falling 24% in the second quarter.
Advertising next to news
In order not to lose audience loyalty, it is necessary to keep track of which news your ad appears next to. Sometimes bad neighborhood causes not only dissonance among site visitors, but also harms the image of companies. IT giants have recognized this problem too. Joshua Spanier, Vice President of global media marketing at Google, said: “You need to pay close attention to context every day, rethinking the tone and visuals you use. It is quite possible, they need to be changed, taking into account the environment.
What does it mean? If you advertise on certain sites on the Internet, use contextual advertising – you should take the time to control and fine-tune. You should check at least large sites with what content your ad is adjacent to. Sometimes turn off the campaign at all is better than to receive damages for the image.
For example: an unpleasant situation can arise with automated systems that use media context to customize an ad. Since their ad serving mechanisms are based on a history generated over a period of time, they may not correspond to the current news situation at a particular moment.
For example, a news portal published the news about how one of the retailers apologizes for selling respiratory masks during their shortages in medical facilities. And on the page next to this news, the following automatic ad from another mask seller (trademark hidden) was shown:
When such advertising is seen in the context of the news, along with which it is reflected, buyers may develop a negative attitude towards the owner of the ad. So when you start advertising necessary to consider the situation in the country and the world.
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