Consumer attitudes and behaviors are heavily influenced by social, economic, and political factors. Marketers often deal with shifts in these areas, but COVID-19 has significantly impacted almost every aspect of our lives in unprecedented ways.
While we hope this is short-lived, it’s critical that brands are sensitive to the rapidly changing environment, particularly with consumer engagement and loyalty initiatives. Now, more than ever, it’s imperative to assess your current initiatives and pivot to ensure that consumers are supported, acknowledged, and rewarded in ways that matter to them right now.
Ensure your rewards strategy fits today’s climate — and tomorrow’s, too. Consumers’ priorities are focused on keeping themselves and their loved ones safe and connected. Rewards and prizes that fulfill basic needs and provide entertainment and engagement are highly valued. Relevant ideas can span essential needs such as grocery delivery services and bill pay assistance but can also serve entertainment needs like video streaming and music services.
It’s also important to consider consumers’ health and connectivity needs. This can include anything from fitness streaming subscriptions and online counseling to standing desks and smart video devices. Lastly, charity and social good is top of mind. Reach your consumers through matching charity donations or repurposing brand resources to help provide in-demand supplies.
Provide helpful or fun content and experiences for consumers at home. On top of being kept from their normal routines, consumers are stressed and worried. Instead of keeping marketing initiatives status quo, or pulling them entirely, brands should consider how they can offer unique content or experiences that consumers will appreciate. Doing this will keep your brand top of mind and forge connections that drive long-term advocacy.
Think about content from both useful and fun perspectives. What might be helpful to consumers as they adjust to changing restrictions? Perhaps instructions to stock a pantry, or providing virtual work and school tips. As for fun, consider experiences like “spring break at home” or FaceTime Game Night. Netflix has already stepped up to the plate with its Netflix Party feature, which allows multiple users to watch movies together.
It’s also important to offer consumers a way to stay connected while safe at home. To help overcome isolation, brands can offer sponsored virtual hangouts and reward engagement with online discounts, or livestream exclusive performances and ask for viewer donations to raise money for charity. Chipotle has even begun hosting virtual lunch parties via Zoom, with celebrities and giveaways, adding in that loyalty reward element.
As the pandemic eases and consumers begin to reorient themselves, marketers will need to consider how things have changed. In such uncertain times, we can count on this: Consumer expectations, preferences, and needs will continue to shift. Brands that are focused on building emotional connections will remain relevant, and those that don’t risk being left behind.