The pandemic is permanently changing consumption — both what consumers buy and how they buy it. Buyer values are already shifting to products and experiences that are healthier, more trustworthy and environmentally sensitive, and more supportive of the communities in which consumers live and work.
This crisis has provided an unprecedented wake-up call to be agile and relevant to consumers and customers—not just during the crisis, but permanently.
Adapting to consumer needs now
Government-enforced lockdowns have created a global quarantine economy. Digitally enabled delivery is the only shopping channel for many. In many segments, these are likely
to be the only viable sales channels in the near term.
But category demand varies significantly. Where some such as food and pet supplies are seeing massive surges, others like fashion are being hit hard. Marketers should recognize that during the emergency, consumers are focused on fulfilling their core needs, not their brand preferences.
In the near term, budgets and workers should be reallocated to the channels and areas of high demand. Social media interactions will be both a key source of insight into that demand and a means of supporting customers through difficult times.
We have seen consumers signing up en masse, building familiarity with new digital services and
channels that had historically slow adoption rates, which in turn is speeding up the digital transformation timelines. Marketing leaders must adapt to this new reality.
That includes looking to rapidly evolve to optimize media and experiences across ecommerce and social channels where consumers have migrated, and prioritizing the digital shelf that for many is the only shelf left for them to compete.
It also includes investing in advanced digital assets such as digital twins to optimize virtual shopping experiences and ensure anti-infection efficacy attributes are clearly communicated. Radically rethink your digital shelf content for optimal discover and conversion to help consumers find what they want and need.
Look ahead to the future
Amid all the present challenges, marketers must remember that this crisis will pass. Economies will rebound, creating a‘new normal. It’s therefore vital to build the capabilities that will be needed in the post-pandemic world, closely monitoring the permanence of the different consumer patterns, behaviors and channel preferences established during the emergency.
It also means thinking about how to define and activate purpose-led programs to ensure consumers’ long-term credible trust in your brand.
Marketers will need to be prepared to battle for digital talent and accelerate the building of skills in their teams, which will likely become an even greater priority both during and after the crisis. These capabilities will be among the biggest drivers of success in the future.
The pandemic is putting virtually every aspect of consumer goods companies to the test. It has demonstrated the interconnectedness of the industry and the need for coordination to reduce the negative consequences of shocks like COVID-19 in the future. In the end, it will be those organizations that are most adaptable to change that will be best positioned to ride out the disruption and help both their businesses and their societies come through stronger.