The pandemic brought huge changes in consumer habits and, in turn, changed how companies did business. Thankfully, the worst is over. And now that we are living in a post-pandemic world, everything will revert back to how it used to be before COVID-19, right? Not so fast! Yes, it’s true that we are back to a more normal life of traveling, eating out and in-person shopping. However, some pandemic-era consumer behaviors and expectations might just be here to stay. So, what have marketers learned from the pandemic that they should continue to implement moving forward?
Take a hybrid approach
During COVID, many of us were locked down in our homes and in need of socialization and physical contact with the outside world. Companies like Peloton thrived as we needed at-home stimulating experiences. When the pandemic was over, we learned that we liked some aspects of being at home. However, many consumers don’t want to go back to pre-pandemic routines — they want a hybrid approach. This is most evident in the fitness industry. Many people no longer want to exercise 100% at a facility or gym like they did pre-COVID. But they also don’t favor working out exclusively from home. Consumers want options, and companies need to adjust. Peloton is now hurting as isolation-driven excitement fades and their at-home-only offering is not as desirable. Consumers want the convenience of working out from home with the flexibility to be among others if they choose. Smart fitness companies are tailoring their memberships to provide these options. Josh Cole, Chief Marketing and Digital Officer for TITLE Boxing Club said, “We are modifying our product and membership offering to better reflect our customers’ hybrid-fitness mindset.” Brands that can pivot to a hybrid offering will see the greatest success. We’ve learned that consumers want to be able to interact with brands how and where they want.
Use creative communication to attract attention
Most marketers understood that information was being consumed differently in 2020; it was being consumed online. But with the massive amount of messaging out there, how could they stand out? Seemingly overnight, everything went virtual: seminars, tradeshows, meetings, digital ads, etc. Consumers were inundated with digital information. How do you engage with consumers and keep them interested? Marketers needed to be creative in how they communicated with audiences in these virtual interactions. Grabbing their attention was even more important than before. Whether through humor or heart, brands needed to make an impact. Match.com understood this and launched the “Match Made in Hell” campaign. This light and funny video asked what would happen if Satan and 2020 dated. The clever ad acknowledged single people’s resilience as well as the worst parts of 2020. The video was a success with over 1.5 million YouTube views. Creative communications like this have the potential to reach larger audiences than ever before. That is still true today. Many consumers remain work-from-home or in some type of hybrid schedule. Which means their information consumption has remained consistent from the pandemic. Marketers who continue to be creative and engaging in this digital space will continue to reap the rewards.
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Be flexible and reinvent when needed
The ability to pivot became a key success factor during the pandemic. Very quickly, businesses shut down or went remote. People were in their homes on their devices instead of being out in the world at physical locations. The typical way of reaching people had changed. Marketers needed to pivot very nimbly to avoid losing market share. Those that quickly adjusted their marketing strategies saw huge success. Companies like Walmart and Target ramped up their at-home delivery service and marketed it aggressively online. Their direct-to-consumer approach was so successful that consumers found they liked this service and have continued to use it long after the pandemic was over. These brands were agile and able to meet their audiences where they were for the moment. That agility will help with any other unforeseen events in the future.
E-commerce is essential
During the pandemic brands needed to either switch to online or ramp up their e-commerce presence. E-commerce sites such as Amazon saw double-digit revenue growth at that time. Consumers were shopping online instead of at a physical retail location. But would this trend continue once the pandemic was over? Amazon recently announced it will begin layoffs at the beginning of 2023 due to slowing revenue growth post-pandemic. Does this mean you should abandon e-commerce? Not at all! Consumers have grown accustomed to purchasing online and many companies are still seeing growth in their digital consumer spend. Investing in e-commerce is as essential today as it was in 2020.
As we get back to our normal lives, it’s very apparent that the pandemic has had some lasting effects on all of us. Yes, consumers are back in the world and back in retail stores. But they have grown accustomed to pandemic-era habits, and those habits are here to stay. Brands need to meet those consumers where they are and adapt to this new normal.