It's Time for Brands to Shift to Phase 2 of COVID-19 Marketing

It’s Time for Brands to Shift to Phase 2 of COVID-19 Marketing

April 27, 2020

Teams working remotely. The psychological burden of economic uncertainty. Quickly identifying thoughtful and strategic ways to pivot business initiatives. One fact is beyond doubt: the COVID-19 pandemic is testing the vulnerabilities of business organizations across the globe. Amid the evolving disruption, companies are searching for ways to build resilience and maintain profitability. The way businesses and marketers communicated to their audience a few weeks ago has become completely irrelevant. The key? Adaptability and prepping for new realities of consumer demand.

So far in phase one, we’ve seen companies exchange product-focused commercials for ones rooted in empathy and community. The brands who moved agilely managed to connect with consumers. As this much shared video proves, every post-COVID commercial looks and feels the same. The most successful brands must pivot their strategies into phase 2 and meet evolving consumer needs to reflect the realities of a whole new marketplace.

Marketing in the Age of Coronavirus

The coronavirus’ impact has been unprecedented, to say the least. Companies are enacting new safety standards and protocols, and most traditional offices are now managing fully distributed teams. In a recent survey conducted by Sirkin Research and NewsCred, 87% of companies stated that their entire marketing department now sits in a remote working environment. This disruption left marketers facing a new challenge – implementing new processes for producing relevant and valuable content safely.

As a result, marketing teams struggled to shift priorities, create coherent and fluid plans, and readjust their budget to align with new initiatives. But, Sirkin Research uncovered another intriguing layer to these matters: 32% of companies using enterprise-level project management and planning tools were not as impacted by budgetary concerns or lack of planning visibility than those without access to these resources. Another pressing quandary that surfaced, according to marketers, was a 33% increase in mandatory meetings and a 28% uptick in tedious tasks and status updates.

Adjusting Brand Messaging

As business leaders across the globe adapt to today’s “new normal,” the need to adjust messaging and strike the right tonality with advertising efforts is crucial to weathering the crisis. Brands are surviving by tuning into the emotional impact of the pandemic in affected countries around the world. The last thing companies want is to come across as oblivious or apathetic. Rather, businesses have stuck with reflecting consumer sentiment and avoiding self-promotion when executing new campaigns.

Speaking with Forbes, Marcel Marcondes, CMO of Anheuser-Busch Inbev U.S said, “Although everybody is scared and getting used to the new routines, everybody wants to have a moment at the end of the day to decompress, to relax a little bit, to be as social as possible-although everyone is applying social distancing.”

For Marcondes, the challenge for AB InBev is focused on alleviating fears, like the fear of financial hardship, the fear of contracting the virus, and helping consumers picture how they can enjoy personal downtime while adhering the necessary guidelines. Like Marcondes and many others, there’s a very real and pressing need to for brands to showcase their humanity and make a genuine impact – in the immediate future and long-term.

Digital Marketing Agency, AdTaxi, also provided some insight into what brands are seeing in their qualitative and quantitative research. Focusing on eCommerce brands, this report sheds light on what consumers are craving to see advertising-wise in this new era of social distancing.

To quell mounting anxieties, 68% of respondents revealed they find it helpful when companies exercise transparency and directly address the Coronavirus crisis. What’s more, another 62% believe that brands who discuss the pandemic in their advertising have the best interests of their target audience at heart. With consumers spending more time shopping online in their new work-from-home environment, it’s no surprise that 45% are more mindful of advertising, choosing to pay closer attention to how brands are positioning themselves in the wake of the crisis.

And yet, now is the time for brands to progress our business efforts into phase two – delivering real messages on how their products meet consumer need during a period of danger and uncertainty. This is an opportunity to dig deeper and focus on meaningful aspects of a company’s history, talk about the generosity and hard work of other brands and charities, and spotlight their employees. Companies must offer something more than hope, condolences, and free shipping if they want to pull away from the pack.

Transitioning to the Next Phase

As the global spread of COVID-19 continues to make headlines, companies need to identify long-term solutions for evolving the way they interact with consumers. At XenoPsi, we are actively analyzing the marketplace and working closely with our clients to tap into consumer sentiment and map out strategies that align with projections. We have seen that those of our clients who are taking risks and investing in this opportunity are seeing real results in revenue. By asking the right questions and exercising creativity, our key clients differentiate their voice from all the noise and repetitive advertisements and generating real business results and stability.