The COVID-19 pandemic has caused countless fundamental changes to the economy, from the way organizations make strategic decisions to how consumers purchase goods on a daily basis. In order to adjust their marketing to consumer needs and thrive in the years following the pandemic, it’s key for businesses to understand how COVID-19 is reshaping society.
Here is a breakdown of how the pandemic affects businesses, consumers, and everyone in between, plus a look at how your brand can rise to the occasion of this historic moment.
The sudden shift toward social distancing forced people all over the world to change how they shop for everything from essentials to luxury items. Certain types of products, such as soap and disinfectant cleaners, saw a 246% increase in sales in some cases. On the other hand, personal care items such as makeup saw a slight decline in sales.
Online retailers saw explosive growth during the pandemic, with Amazon doubling its profits during the first half of 2020 and other online retailers seeing similar increases in revenue throughout the year. Shopping online with these retailers allowed consumers to stay inside and reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19 by being around fewer individuals than they would in a brick-and-mortar retail setting.
However, online retail giants aren’t the only ones who have seen a windfall from the changing landscape of consumer behavior. Consumers became particularly conscious of the livelihood of local businesses, giving them more patronage than they had in the past in order to help these small businesses stay afloat during the economic downturn that came at the beginning of the pandemic. To this day, curbside pickup remains a popular choice for shopping locally, along with ordering products online.
The tendency has been for consumers to focus on durability and reliability in their products and services. After all, with millions out of work or contending with reduced hours during the pandemic, products that were once easily replaceable now need to be stretched farther and used as judiciously as possible. Consumers also have to consider the price of the products they purchase, especially as they’re working harder to make ends meet.
Consumers were already beginning to assess the ethics and social consciousness of the brands they used before the start of the pandemic. However, as with numerous other societal issues, COVID-19 made consumers and brands alike increasingly aware of the need for clear, public ethics and social stances.
With that, transparency has come to the forefront. With major civil rights issues such as racial equity and the rising number of women being forced out of work, the most proactive companies have made it clear what their values are without being prompted. That means not only providing a list of core values on their website, but acting upon them in everything from where they source their materials to being transparent with their hiring practices.
The pandemic has also affected business in terms of the vendors they consider in their global supply chain needs. As local governments declared states of emergency and shutdowns for their localities, production across the world halted, resulting in shortages overseas and certain products being harder for consumers to find. This has included everything from boxed pasta to synthetic wigs, and has resulted in consumers having to reconsider what they needed.
COVID-19 has also emphasized the need for businesses to have a crisis plan in place. There were countless businesses coasting by without a backup plan before the pandemic, which forced them to close or downsize considerably when revenue slowed or stopped. With that, internal factors like turnover and cybersecurity risks are bigger than ever. If your organization doesn’t already have procedures in place should production be halted, now is the time to prepare and plan ahead. After all, disaster doesn’t wait to strike until it’s convenient.
While it’s important for businesses to stay the course with their overall brand strategy during catastrophic situations like a pandemic, now is the time to reevaluate what’s important. These include both internal and external considerations, including:
Taking care of our personal health and well-being
Taking care of others, including our employees, families, and friends
Taking care of our society
Take a few moments to reflect on what your business does to address each of these three factors, and how the pandemic may have affected them, if at all. Then, ask yourself how easy or difficult it will be for your brand’s promises to adapt to messages of safety and trust for consumers. If your brand already emphasized community stewardship, it will be easier to speak to your consumers in a way that fosters a strong relationship with them.
Focusing on these factors will make it easier to build brand trust and recognition with your customers. Flexibility and resilience are key to coming out of the pandemic with a stronger brand than you had before and keeping your mission and values intact.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected businesses in ways that will be felt for years to come, in ways we may not immediately understand. It has caused both consumers and businesses alike to evaluate what matters most to them, but this change can lead to growth for your business, with the right approach. To learn more about how you can market your brand to an engaged, reliable audience with a taste for intellectual curiosity, subscribe to the Market Enginuity blog today.