An online discussion facilitated by the University of Oxford ‘s Saïd Business School about marketing and advertising through and beyond COVID-19 threw up some interesting perspectives.
I attended a virtual event hosted by Oxford Saïd’s Professor Andrew Stephen, featuring Martyn Etherington, CMO, Teradata; Oxford Saïd Associate Fellow Seth Rogin; and Julie Kollman, Global Head of Insights, Moet Hennessy.
The panel discussed what brands and marketers should now be focusing on to rebuild brands post-crisis. Four key pieces of advice emerged strongly.
1 Buyer behaviour won’t change dramatically:
While today’s global pandemic may have created a huge shift in the way we live and work, buyer behaviour won’t change significantly in the long run. The pace of change we’ve been seeing in the last five years has massively accelerated over the last six weeks, but brands were already thinking digitally – and those that weren’t have had to quickly adapt.
Brands shouldn’t rush to push everything online however. Consumers are missing human contact. Bricks and mortar strategies remain important as they offer product placement opportunities, prestige and a way to bring the brand experience to life. Over the longer-term, smart marketers will embrace digital and virtual but combine this with an element of physical experience.
2 Customer insight will signpost the way:
Brands seeking new areas of growth both now and post COVID-19 need to focus on the benefits that people are getting from life as it is and develop or diversify their offering accordingly.
Consideration needs to be given to convenience, access to products and services that might not have been available in the same way before and new habits around socialising.
Equally consumers are looking for quality but at an accessible price. Listening to customers will tell a brand all it needs to know about their income, needs and what is expected of it in the future. Consumer research is a wise investment right now.
3 Be ready for the ‘Green Recovery’:
We’re living in a post trust era and the global lockdown has drawn consumer attention to climate change and sustainability because of the positive impact that restricted movement has had on the environment.
Customers are reprioritising who they trust according to the needs of society, which means brands are being judged on how they act now. Brands need to be socially responsible, authentic, live their values and build their credentials with their customer base to reap the benefits on the recovery.
4 Now is not the time to cut marketing costs:
Reducing PR, marketing and advertising costs may seem an easy way to make savings but it’s also a fast way for brand equity to take a hit. Coupled with this, the investment that will be needed to get back to previous levels will be exponentially higher. New channels may provide more cost effective routes to customers so brands need to be agile and thoughtful in their approach.
Investing now will make the recovery quicker.