COVID- 19 Lockout: How brands can survive these tough times and get future-ready

2 weeks into lockdown, life has come to a standstill, well business certainly has. Nature rejuvenates taking a break from the pressure of supporting the wants of 7.8 billion people. This is an unprecedented time, something none of us have seen in our lifetimes but it is also a time for brands to rejuvenate their relationships with their consumers. As the saying goes, you may skip someone’s celebration, but you cannot skip a funeral.  The thought leaders in the world of brands have snapped up and made the effort to make lives of those they care about easier, share their sadness and help improve their life.

The study by Kantar Global highlights 77 percent of respondents expect their brands to be helpful in what has become “the new everyday life.” Only 8 percent feel they should stop advertising” 

Businesses, brands and consumers are having to quickly learn the new way to operate in the coming month and the months post. Consumption patterns have been disrupted by the lock down. Work from home and isolation has resulted in New Online Behavioral Shifts Are Beginning to Take Shape. Some of these patterns are changing for the long term.

One thing is clear, those who acclimatize and innovate to make the best of a bad situation are the ones who will come out on top

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not about opportunism but a synergy between consumers who are starved for engagement and the brand that they love. Live sport is canceled, as are new movie releases, there are no parks, walks, parties, events large and small are cancelled. Work from home is adding to the isolation and cabin fever is setting in.  

Isolation has resulted in Increased day time viewing, consumption of Video, content online, Social media, online communities, like Facebook groups, ad costs on social media have dipped, DIY content is exploding as people move to hobbies to keep themselves engaged, OTT is booming, conferencing apps have seen increased usage. Increased engagement in online groups could make them even more significant, connective elements, and valued tools for support and assistance.

Brands should instead rework their marketing strategies to focus on long-term brand building within the limitations of the current climate, but they should also shift strategies to follow new media consumption patterns.

Content marketing becomes important, People are looking for support and a semblance of normalcy amid the pandemic, and they’re turning to online communities. Social media sees an increase of 61% in engagement. At such a time brand marketing turning to meaningful community support will find long term value. This is the right time to rejuvenate the online community you support or even form a new one. Digital events, Virtual parties, teaching a skill, supporting brand Hobbyists online, Pajama Parties virtually, gamification, Filters, DIY content, whatever be your space, know this that going dark is not the prudent step.

Future ready: the lock down has bought war protocols to the forefront. Campaigns stopped mid track, budgets unspent due to cancelled events and sponsorships, advertising production stalled, sales to a standstill and marketing plans being re calibrated, it has all come down to planning for the future. When we beat the virus and we will it’s a matter of time, there will be a rush to reclaim our lives people and brands alike. Those who are better planned will gain with a faster, more relevant go to market strategy one which takes into account the consumer behavior shifts during the covid-19 lockdown. This is the time to work on the basics, get the SEO in order, revamp the brand website, get those landing pages optimized and live, sales tools and calculators for your sales teams, Focus on community building. Humanize marketing and plan plan plan with your partners and agencies. If Partners, agencies and production companies are on the same page much can be achieved from the safety of wherever they are.      

The article was originally published in The Financial Express and Yahoo Finance on April 17, 2020.

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Ambika Sharma - Chief Strategist at Pulp Strategy

Chief strategist @pulpstrategy, entrepreneur, consumer engagement designer, writer, adventure traveller, diver, HOG, SuperBiker and speed buff