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How Covid-19 Changed Marketing

By March 26, 2021No Comments
A yellow change ahead sign with blue sky and cloud behind it

It’s officially been one year since Covid-19 hit the shores of the United States and began to change the way we do things in both the short term and the long term. One of the industries most affected by Covid is marketing. In March 2020 marketers and businesses immediately began reassessing marketing strategies and business models to make the changes needed to succeed in a world engulfed in a global pandemic.

Messaging Matters

One of the first major shifts in marketing involved messaging. Covid is scary and turned the world upside down, so any messaging that was too “sales-y” was just wrong. Brands created marketing messages conveying empathy for what their customers were experiencing and messages of solidarity in the face of adversity. This type of branding, however, could turn off consumers if it was too generic or inauthentic. In addition, consumers grew weary of hearing brands talk about “in these unprecedented times” and reading about how important it is to “pivot”.  However, brands that delivered value with their empathetic messaging were more successful. A good example of this is Zoom. Zoom offered free accounts with limited minutes which helped keep families connected virtually. The result? The company’s stock rose 67%from the beginning of February to the end of in March in 2020.

Along with Covid came a tumultuous summer of civil rights protests and a contentious election season. In previous years, brands were often leery of taking a stand on social issues, but the change in the collective mindset, and the ability for people to focus on the issues due to lockdowns, gave brands the encouragement to communicate their corporate stance on issues. This kind of messaging is effective particularly with Gen Z, as long as the support isn’t performative.  One brand that has an authentic and consistent stance on social issues is Ben & Jerry’s. They have stances on climate change, racial justice, and more. Because these values are present in all aspects of their business, Ben & Jerry’s is an example of the best kind of social justice marketing.

Creating Communities

The pandemic isolated many people so the importance of online communities began to grow. Chipotle experimented with Zoom to create a “Chipotle Together” campaign which was a Zoom series that featured daily sessions with celebrities.

Facebook groups have been around since 2016, but the tech giant began promoting groups more heavily during the early days of quarantine. Curating a group of your brand’s fans is a good way to stay connected to them and promote content, especially through video. According to a Facebook study, 86% of people whose most important community group primarily online says they will continue to engage with that group at the same level (48%) or more frequently (39%).

The Power of Video

Livestreaming, video conferencing, and video, in general, are tactics that saw a tremendous increase in 2020, that likely will stay relevant. As people continue to connect digitally due to Covid, it’s more important now to engage with your customers where they’re at on social media. This includes YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, even Snapchat and TikTok. Creating good videos has never been easier with smartphone cameras and simple editing apps. Webinars are another great way to educate consumers and stay relevant.

E-Commerce on Websites

For retailers and restaurants, having e-commerce available on their websites became a matter of survival. While some businesses initially didn’t see value in e-commerce, the ability to sell goods and services online during lockdowns and quarantines caused a boom in e-commerce—up 32.4% from the previous year. The top four categories for online sales in 2020 included:

  • Food and beverage – up 100.1%
  • Toys/Hobbies – up 63.1%
  • Consumer Electronics – up 61.5%
  • Hardware/Home – up 52%

Now that consumers have experienced the convenience of e-commerce, this is a trend that is predicted to stay relevant for years to come.

Change is Good

While the reason that these changes in marketing occurred is tragic, the changes themselves are good. The world will never be the same post-Covid and many of the ways in which we now connect with our audiences will remain pertinent. If you’re interested in finding new ways to connect to your customers, we’d love to talk to you. Contact us for a conversation.