The COVID-19 global pandemic has confined over a billion people in our country to their homes. The lockdown mode and the requirement for social distancing are conceivably changing customer behavior patterns. Personal and family wellbeing and safety security measures have taken priority over everything else. And, as people are now comfortable staying indoors, a resulting effect of this will be seen in consumption habits and spending patterns. So, how should brands and businesses respond and stay relevant in this crisis?
Here are 5 mantras that business leaders and marketing professionals can refer to and cope with changing times.
Refer to your brand purpose and values
Brands who have established a clear purpose and who stay true to their core values will find it easier to adapt to the situation. They will be faster to lead the call to change. In uncertain times, purpose can best guide the strategy and help us stay true to our values. Also, there needs to be a shift in how we look at consumers and connect with them more meaningfully. Brands must ask what they need from us in these times and not how we can sell what we have. This may open new possibilities for collaboration or extension while still operating from the core purpose.
Listen to your customers deeply and intently
The most important priority should be to take care of your existing customers as that would provide stability to your business. This is not about conducting surveys or customary research but having a keen ear to the ground every single day. It is important to establish a very robust listening mechanism through which we identify pain points proactively for rapid action. In such testing times customers need the re-assurance of the brand through actions and not just words. Since, in tough times, customers tend to scrutinize every single expenditure, they will expect more attention and value when making their purchases with you, not less. This can be done by the means of services, assistance, education, training, installation, modifications, and real-time support, etc.
Accelerate your digital programs
Many organizations have undergone a digital transformation in recent years. So, it is likely that this pandemic will only serve as a major accelerant to their efforts. This will be the most critical factor while handling the crisis with markedly less disruption. Also, one can expect significant growth in e-commerce as many fence sitters and uninitiated customers will now experience the convenience of online. This consumption paradigm shift would also require marketeers to re-align their media buying strategy and develop an omni-channel presence.
The other capability to strengthen in line with digital, will be data and analytics capabilities. This will be required to augment revenues by finding new segments, assessing life-time value of customers, leveraging x-sell and to pair costs for maximum efficiencies.
Have a robust content strategy in place
People will spend less time traveling and socialising. Consequently, they will have more time on devices, and will consume more and variety of content. Customers would get better at online research and comparisons. Voice and video-based content in multiple language will be required to scale your reach. Therefore, brands should have a robust content strategy in place to address different customer personas and talk in their context. Again, the focus should be on what customer need in these times. They must engage customers meaningfully and guide them to travel down the purchase funnel.
Be authentic and think collective
Overcoming the COVID-19 crisis will require massive collaboration from people, organisations and communities all over. There are incredible efforts being put by so many organisations and charities to support those who need our help the most. In the post COVID-19 era, we are likely to see a rise in social consciousness and need to promote sustainability. Consumers will reward organisations for being true to their core, for being authentic and for living the community. Sustainability should find a more prominent place in business strategy. Brands must communicate and engage with empathy, authenticity and optimism. They should be transparent, be more humane and operate from a collective point of view while building a new, better normal world.
Author –Mr. Rakesh Wadhwa,
Chief Marketing and Customer Officer
Future Generali India Life Insurance Company Ltd.