Marketing departments of brands across categories are facing one of the most challenging situations now. They are in the process of developing innovative marketing strategies and practices that will navigate their business through this ‘new normal’ created by the pandemic.

For most of the brands, this means dealing with market alterations and changes in consumer behaviour because of the economic impact on all industry sectors. It means handling the increased competition because of consumers’ and social ‘new normal’; addressing the brand sustainability issues; evaluating the operational issues and the options available; challenges presented by strategic planning in an environment of total uncertainty; analysing the brand reputation issues; identifying new products and services to meet the needs of consumers and their expectations; focusing on creative and strategic marketing campaigns and targeted promotions; and also using the social media more effectively.

These are considered all the more important because as a result of COVID-19, marketing spending had come down for some categories of products as retail outlets closed and revenue decreased. Many companies have suspended all their marketing activities last year to save money, and also to get more clarity on what to do in 2021.

Many businesses have refocused their activities and spending to purpose-driven marketing, mission-based marketing and cause-related marketing to take better advantage of consumers’ increased media consumption while working from home. According to recent research findings, around 45% of global consumers are spending more time in social media, and online video consumption has also gone up by 26%. Online gaming traffic has also gone up significantly, and the number of consumers using online food and essential goods delivery has also risen dramatically. As a result of these changes, many brands are looking at optimising their marketing practices to better reflect the increase in online transactions and communication.

Brands must acknowledge the current crisis while continuously reflecting positive values that will keep consumers coming back for more. This can be achieved through modifying marketing campaign and scheduled content timelines, evaluating the tone of language and imagery used in brand communication and marketing materials, and awareness of consumers’ increased anxiety in this pandemic situation. Brands must also ensure compliance with the appropriate regulatory framework prior to release of new slogans, logos or other intellectual property.

In the present situation, brands should have absolute clarity on the following areas before finalising their marketing initiatives.

  • How to promote our product or service in the midst of COVID-19 crisis in a way that resonates with consumers?
  • How can we take the brand communication with consumers forward in an effective way after the anxiety and fear subsides and a sense of ‘normality’ comes back?
  • Clarity on the influencers and endorsers (if any) we should be using to promote the brand now and in the future. Who are those ‘heroes’ that we can applaud?
  • What promotional activities can we look at to promote our brand; to promote positivity in the market place; and to promote a “good cause”?

Try focusing more on the customers you already have, or who are still with you despite the economic downturn. With the lockdowns and travel restrictions of the pandemic, it’s no surprise that everything is shifting online. This is the time to increase your online presence. You are likely to have some of your business functions online, but the pandemic has shown us that we can do much more online. Update the websites, create new social media campaigns focused on home-based workers and the new generation, and focus more on ecommerce trends and channels.


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