COVID-19 And the Resulting Shift In Marketing Trends Make the most of the time by understanding about consumer behaviors at the moment

By Sayantan Dasgupta

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By now, you must've realized the severity of the pandemic that we are going through. Businesses are shutting up shops and economies are crashing, let alone the death tolls. Per this moment, there are 1,600,000-plus confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide with over 100,000 deaths and it is predicted that European and the US economies could take next three years to cover up for this crisis. My thoughts are with everyone who is personally impacted.

Every business is ready to jump back into the market, however, amid all the ongoing crisis and stay at home orders, it's best to make the most of the time by understanding about consumer behaviors at the moment; learn how different industries are getting affected; and how marketers need to mend some ways to counter the impact of COVID-19 in the coming times.

Learn more about consumer behavior and major shifts

With most of the people working from home, learning online and spending more time online than usual, as a marketer myself I can assure that this is a great time to take note of the shifting consumer behavior. As more and more of your potential prospects will be spending a lot of their time online, a rise in ad inventory across different channels can be witnessed. However, as budgets will go on cuts, marketing spends will be put on a continuous check, ensuring the decrease in CPM (cost per thousand/cost per mile) across impression-based advertising platforms. In such scenarios, where ad inventory is increasing and purchasing is either at the same or declining rates, the cost of buying the ad inventory will certainly fall. This will give you a gateway to increase return on investment by leveraging the time window of cheaper paid ads.

Looking at the conversions, if your business falls under categories such as food, media, healthcare, or pharma, you are expected to witness higher conversion rates. However, with this economic downturn, some of the businesses may see a deflect in consumer choices. The consumers with insignificant disposable income or the ones with small businesses, they might choose to spend on only necessities at the moment. Having said that, some of the consumers are also likely to fall under "wait-and-see' situation, pushing marketers to keep an eye on their purchase behaviors and make the necessary changes in their campaigns accordingly.

The impact on different industries

Many industries are suffering due to this global pandemic situation. For instance, travel industry suffered a major setback, per International Air Transport Association (IATA), global airlines may lose $113 billion in sales if the coronavirus continues to spread at the current rate. However, on the contrary, Zoom, a global enterprise video communication solution, emerged as the most downloaded business app in the US on Apple store in March's second week. The insurance industry faced a mix of consumer reactions. While the demand for medical and health insurances increased by 35-40 per cent on online platforms in India, the travel insurance saw a fall in demand as a result of all the travel restrictions.

This is a very crucial time for businesses, especially for startups. They need to make sure they are leveraging the right approaches to ensure they are left with enough funds to make it through the pandemic. For instance, businesses that are dependent on supply chains of Asian or European markets are more likely to encounter slowdowns and accordingly they need to double-check their adopted marketing strategies, scheduled campaigns, and make required modifications. We all are, right?

So, what should marketers do?

As marketers, we know how to adapt per the changing scenarios and demands. This is what we have to do at the moment as well. As discussed, people will be spending more and more time online and at home, thus, it clearly provides you with an opportunity to let your audience know you. Focus more on brand building and run ads that highlight your brand and its niche. Shift more towards television and online advertisement and take advantage of cheaper than usual paid ads.

Having said that, you should also focus on the allocated budget. You need to be ready with the emergency budgets for the department. To make it happen, you must cut down on the frequency of your paid campaigns, especially for the products that do not relate to the category of "necessity' at the moment. Make the most of email campaigns and let your prospects and customers know that you are thinking about them and are there to help them with rapid response programmes.

While running email and ad campaigns, you need to ensure that your language and tone reflect compassion. You should be talking about your products subtly without offending someone or hurting anyone's sentiments. I believe this is a very critical time and everyone is looking after their dear ones, hence the tone of your writing matters a lot. Do not run campaigns that do not relate to the pandemic or surrounded situations in one or the other way. At this time, focus more on building relations with your prospects and customers rather than putting forth a sales pitch.

The bottom line

These are difficult times; people are losing their dear ones, and many are suffering big monetary losses due to shattered financial systems. However, try to see the silver lining and re-strategize your current outreach and communication strategies. Make the most of it by realizing the possible opportunities and leveraging suitable channels to connect with your prospects and customers. If nothing or very less seems to be working out at this moment, pivot and leverage these challenging times to take a closer look at your marketing roadmaps, audit your campaign visuals as well. Sometimes the simple of methodologies work wonder. We are all in it together, the quarantine won't last forever.
Sayantan Dasgupta

Director, Gramener

Sayantan is a Director at Gramener, a data science and analytics company that helps organizations identify insights and convert them into compelling stories. With over 14+ years of experience across B2B SaaS-based companies, Venture Capital, Higher Ed, and the Music Industry, Sayantan helps teams with their GTM strategies, Product-market fit, and Demand Generation activities. In his previous stint, he fulfilled two titles; Vice President of Marketing, North America for a US-based ERP/CRM/SIS/AI company, and Partner at a Chicago-based Venture Capital firm focused on tech investments.

Being the great-grandson of Bipin Chandra Pal, who was one of the freedom fighters of India and the 'Father of Revolutionary Thoughts', Sayantan believes in supporting entrepreneurial ideas that are solving real problems in the society. Beyond his corporate life, Sayantan is a professional guitarist and is best known for his work as a session guitarist for the superhit movie Rang De Basanti where he worked for A. R. Rahman back in 2005. During his leisure, he teaches music at his studio, speaks at events and summits, and loves traveling.


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