March 10, 2021
Looking Beyond COVID-19
Have you ever had a song stuck in your head, but only a few lines? Well, recently, while viewing numerous presentations predicting changes that will permanently impact society post-COVID, Reflections (by Diana Ross and the Supremes) rings through my head: “Reflections of, the way life used to be…”. In these presentations, experts from their respective fields examine the lasting impacts they believe the pandemic will have on people emotionally, behaviorally, and economically. The notion of how all these changes have played out in months versus years is clear, and we will not be returning to “the way life used to be.”
While I can personally relate to many of these changes from my perspective as a consumer, my role as a media strategist requires me to take a step back and view this from the perspective of marketers: how does our approach to growing brands and sales change as a result of how people have changed? Let’s break this down into the three aforementioned areas – emotional, behavioral, and economical:
- Emotionally: Reprioritization will continue.
People have been reevaluating what is truly important to them as they try to find balance. As Ipsos1 reminded us in December 2020, external and internal context has direct impact on what we value and how we live. The realization that time is a precious commodity that you only have so much and should not be wasted has crossed boarders. Making sure that the decisions you make move you closer to your desired goals is a unifying principle. Consumers are asking the simple questions: Is it important? Is it in line with my values? Does it help me reach my goal? Ipsos Global Trends 2020 stated that 68% of people worldwide want brands to speak out on social and political issues. Engaging with purpose from product design to communication will only become more vital.
- Behaviorally: Necessity is the mother of invention and change is its grandmother.
As the pandemic changed our lives overnight, we were required to adopt new behaviors regardless of our age cohort, geography, or financial status. The rapid growth of e-commerce, online banking, streaming, telemedicine, to name a few, are clear examples. Many of these behaviors are predicted to be permanent. 49% of consumers expect to shop online more frequently, even after the pandemic according GWI’s Connecting the Dots 2021. 25.5% of respondents to Raydiant’s State of Consumer Behavior in 2021 listed convenience as the deciding factor in where they choose to give their business. Consumers will continue to embrace behaviors that provide convenience and improve their current state.
- Economically: Value has found a focus.
As a society, we have been redefining the meaning of value for a while. People’s varied experiences resulted in just as many nuances definition of value. The last year has brought that term into review once again, and with it a narrower definition than in years prior. Ipsos1 shared with us the concept of mindful deliberation with the understanding that our purchase decisions become more mindful as we face grater disruption in what was perceived as our norm. Also, in 2020, Nielsen2 shared with us the characteristics for the Insulated (financial stable) and Constrained (financial struggling) spenders. While the experience for each of these major consumer groups has been different over the past year, the practice of closely assessing spending is common to both due to the need for “mindful deliberation” Each group is asking “does the investment required align with the usefulness?” Demonstrating the merit of the product or service will be key in order to prove its place within the purchase cycle.
As we move forward over the next year, brands and their marketers will have to be flexible to meet the reprioritized needs of consumers. Even the tried and true will be required to recertify themselves as worthy of their share of consumers precious resources. I am firmly of the belief that what we thought of as “normal” prior to March 2020 has fundamentally changed for good, with very little chance of going back. Whether these changes were on the horizon or had already begun but were thrust into hyper drive, the fact is that they are now here, and they present opportunities for the future. While we may reflect on our past, we need to evaluate the current environment and frame our decisions to reach consumers with the above guiding principles in mind as we move into our new post-COVID world.
- Shifting Context, Shifting Priorities: Time for a Strategic Reset? Ipsos December 2020