April 8, 2020
As we continue to wade into deeper water with the expanding impact of COVID-19, this unprecedented situation has given us much to think about, including the lasting impact this crisis will have on our society and culture. What will things look like when this ultimately ends, what will return to business as usual, and what long term impact will this have? These questions give us a lot to discuss and debate, but only time will reveal the answers.
Each of us contemplates these questions through our personal and professional lens. For consumer marketers, there’s obviously a big focus right now on how brands are responding to help, and there are dozens of incredible examples of how they’re stepping in to make a positive impact. Looking beyond how brands are responding, the key question is what opportunities will there be when this situation is behind us? How does the now shape what’s next?
Here are seven questions I think consumer brands should ask themselves as they consider their post-pandemic plans:
- How will the values of our customers and consumers change?
How has the experience of living through this pandemic impacted consumers’ values? Will they place greater value on personal health? Time with family? Belonging to their tribes or social groups? How do any shifts in values change their motivators and behaviors, including buying behaviors? And, most importantly, what role will they expect brands to play in delivering against those values?
- How can we apply our problem-solving skills to ‘everyday’ crises?
Research has been telling us for years that consumers want to support purpose-driven brands and they increasingly expect companies to help solve societal problems. Today, consumers are seeing how companies, particularly those in manufacturing, can mobilize quickly to solve immediate needs. Hanes, LVMH, Fanatics and Crocs are just a few examples of brands taking on meaningful roles during this crisis.
This is the beginning of a post-pandemic shift in consumers expecting brands to step up even more and address ‘everyday’ crises that plague our country, our cities or their local communities. Consumers will, for a time, see brands as potential superheroes who can save the day. While it’s smart to look ahead on this, brands also need to ask themselves: How will what we’re doing now (or not doing) impact how consumers view us when this is done?
- How can we show our loyal brand fans how much we missed them?
Consumer brands are finding ways to maintain connections with consumers in brilliant ways. For example, what 2K Games is doing with its NBA 2K Players Tournament is an incredibly smart play at a time with no live sports. However, there are a lot of things we can’t access right now. From our favorite cleaning products to our go-to coffee shop, consumers’ inability to secure or access the brands, products, services and experiences they love will make them value those things even more. Consumer brands can re-engage brand loyalists by showing them just how much they missed them.
- How can we reconnect consumers to the things they missed?
Consumers will want to reconnect with everything they couldn’t access during the crisis -- going to the gym, attending sporting events, enjoying live music, hosting dinner parties, visiting family, and so much more. Brands have an opportunity to play the role of connector, and should ask themselves: What role can we play in helping to reconnect people with the people, places, and experiences they love?
- What is our role in helping consumers win on wellness?
This crisis has made us all think about our health, safety and wellbeing. The wellness movement was surging before COVID-19, and it’s likely we’ll see a huge increase in consumers supporting brands that help them be and stay well. Brands will have an opportunity to participate in consumer wellness with an audience that’s more receptive than ever before. The question is: What impact can your brand have on all aspects of consumers’ physical and mental wellbeing?
- What should our virtual engagement and storytelling strategy look like?
From concerts and dance parties to museum tours and travel, the global crisis is giving birth to more virtual experiences. The impact? The experience economy will likely grow. Brands will have more opportunity than ever to create shareable, memorable experiences and move this to the mainstream.
- How can we help consumers have fun again?
People are making the best of a very challenging situation. Soon consumers will be looking for ways to have fun again. Building on the potential of this connector role, brands can create experiences, campaigns, and content that gets people laughing, smiling, and playing again. And what kinds of play are they discovering now that they may want to continue or expand in the future?
We’re all anxious for this pandemic to be in our rearview mirror, and we don’t fully know how much of a toll it’s taking on our society. What we do know is this time will end, in some way, and be followed by another window – one in which consumers will go back to engaging with brands and seeking ways to return, as much as we can, to the way things were. Some brands will continue to have the opportunity to help during the crisis, but every brand needs to start thinking about how what’s now will shape what’s next.
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