The pandemic prompted a huge shift in consumer behaviour, with data from McKinsey suggesting that digital adoption leaped forward five years in just a few weeks in 2020. Many brands are still hurrying to catch up with the huge changes forced upon them during the last 18 months.
The challenging lock-down periods saw two-thirds of consumers explore new ways of shopping, and their expectations flipped – entire customer experiences suddenly had to be transformed. Gyms went digital. Supermarkets became delivery companies. Michelin-starred restaurants turned into meal-kit retailers.
Convenience is so ‘yesterday’
As global consumer outlook shifted almost overnight, ‘quality’ and ‘purpose’ eclipsed ‘convenience’ or ‘availability’. Meanwhile, the old normal was rejected. Trust in social media plummeted to 35%. Less than two in five people believed businesses were successfully putting people before profits. By October 2020, 86% of people globally said they wanted to see the world become more sustainable and equitable rather than return to the pre-Covid status quo.
Rising to the bigger social challenge
A small number of brands have been quick to respond to this new sense of social purpose, launching campaigns to support health workers and provide disadvantaged children with free meals and homeschooling technology. Coca-Cola, for example, paused its marketing spend in 2020 to focus on relief efforts, then returned with Open Like Never Before, a collaboration with George the Poet. The campaign urged people to maintain and embrace the positive changes of lockdown, and provided tools and budget to enable hard-up hospitality venues to share their stories and promote their businesses on social media.
But for many brands, the current challenge is to maximise digital investment to create opportunities and stand-out digital experiences that promote a return to growth. Invariably, this requires a completely new approach to digital planning.
Fortifying your brand with enhanced content marketing
As brands emerge from the pandemic and embark on the process of rebuilding, it’s clear that many marketing strategies are in urgent need of redesign. It’s not simply about shifting budget away from the hubris of brand advertising to richer, more human storytelling.
Succeeding in this new consumer landscape means smashing down the walls between marketing, digital, sales and CRM. It means reimagining teams and processes, embracing experimentation and embedding resilience.
Change can be painful, and there are undoubtedly more tough times ahead, but the opportunities have never been bigger for the brands that embrace agility and empathy – the cornerstones of sophisticated content marketing.