What is currently changing in user behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic? How can brands adapt to these changes?
Last year, with Fridays for Future and XR demonstrations, the topic of climate change was on the news almost every single day. Because people were becoming aware of our bleak future, I noticed a big change in consumer behavior.
Families started to reduce their plastic use, use public transportation more, reuse, repair and recycle, make their own household and body care products, look at labels to find eco-friendly materials, boycott ethical brands and boycott what they deemed ‘non-ethical’, etc.
This year, the focus is on COVID-19, and for the first time in our history, many people are just trying to survive. Be it physically, financially and/or emotionally.
We’re now seeing hoarding and prepping out of fear. Since many consumers have more time on their hands and some fear job loss, they’re becoming more conscious about life in general. They’re making more conscious and less automatic decisions based on their needs, not their wants.
They’re also purchasing more online than in store, including food and other items they normally wouldn’t buy online.
Online streaming of movies and radio stations have also increased, giving these industries a more effective advertising opportunity.
The travel industry will take the hardest hit and has already experienced a huge drop. The World Travel and Tourism Council projects a global loss of 75 million jobs and $2.1 trillion in revenue. Source.
How can brands survive these risky times?
Communicate, connect, collaborate and be creative.
During a crisis, it’s better to be active and vocal than remain quiet.
It’s more expensive to gain new customers than it is to nurture your existing customers, so now’s the time to directly speak to and connect with your customers. Either via email, social media or telephone.
Communicate how you’re handling the situation, how you’re protecting your employees and how you’re helping your customers. i.e. by eliminating transport costs or just sending a message of ‘We’re all in this together’.
If you’ve got the capacity to listen to your customers, now’s the best time to pick up the phone to conduct customer buying interviews and reward them with a gift of appreciation for their time. Think about your isolated senior customers who now crave someone to just talk to.
Find ways to collaborate with others who share the same values in order to make a bigger impact.
For example, World Bee Day is on May 20th. Does that topic fit your brand, purpose and cause? If so, team up with your local beekeeper and create a short documentary about how you’re helping increase the bee population.
Fashion Revolution Week – the main reason why sustainable fashion is becoming increasingly popular – ended on April 24th, but those brands can still team up with another sustainable fashion brand to design a virtual fashion show and give back part of your profits to your shared cause.
The best thing with this is that the fashion industry is so highly competitive. Collaborations don’t usually exist, so if you do this, it’s unique. Just think: No human on this planet is loyal to only one fashion brand because styles and brands are so individual, meaning, you’ll only gain new customers if you collaborate with your competition.
I’m really surprised that I’m not seeing this!
There are so many things you can do. Brainstorm with your team and get strategic and creative.
Word of caution: Stay true to your brand values and identity. This is not a time to start ‘fighting’ for a cause you have nothing in common with just to try to prove you’re doing something good in this world. That’s called greenwashing is now becoming more popular among big brands but is being negatively viewed by those consumers who are becoming more aware of the manipulation. Be honest, transparent and real.
What will really help brands?
The brands that will come out of this crisis thriving will be those who are helping people in need in some way.
Brands like Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm that — after canceling their yearly tulip festival — donated their tulips to isolated seniors.
These creative acts of kindness will remain in the hearts and minds of people for a long, long time.
Ask yourself how your business can help others the most right now.