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Marketing in the age of coronavirus: how brands change their strategies to stay with the customer

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Coverage of the COVID19 news and its impact on the world is the number one news if you open the front pages of the world’s main media-from The New York Times to the BBC. At the same time, life goes on. And people locked in their homes continue to contact, work, and consume. Smartphone and computer screens have become a new window into the world, and this has provided new opportunities for those who continue to work with products and services. What does this mean for marketing in the age of pandemics?

First of all, the quarantine situation gave an incredible boost to e-commerce. For example, online delivery stores were overloaded all over the world. At first glance, what else can be done to stimulate this demand? Working From Home (WFH) that used to be a perk available for the selected group professionals nowadays is a necessity for everyone who can do their job remotely. With this, “WFH clothing style”, a new brand of home clothing emerged in the last few weeks. Leading clothing brands, from GAP and Banana Republic to Ferragamo and Armani are turning they collection around to satisfy this demand. What could be a more convenient time to invest in luxury pajamas? Maybe we should remind people once again that they can get almost anything they want just by sitting at home.

But it’s not as obvious as it sounds. The year 2020 is not a time when ads are created solely for the sake of advertising. Today’s product, whether it’s a delivery service, a dress, or an alcoholic beverage, is primarily aimed at solving consumer problems. And if each of us now suffers from uncertainty, anxiety about the future, boredom, fear of illness or inability to find contact with their children, then the first goal of the brand should be to help us resist this.

“Classic advertising and its tools will seem insincere, as if brands are taking advantage of the situation,” says Cecilia Gates, CEO of Gates Creative in an interview with WWD. “Now is the time to take a step back. Everyone is obviously afraid of what the pandemic might do to the economy, and consumers are now holding onto their wallets tight, but we have to wait out these next few weeks and then take stock.”

Obviously, when your key products are cars, clothes, or hair dryers, it’s harder than usual to stay on the same wavelength with the consumer. And then it’s time for really big gestures that are more than likely not going to pay off simply because they are not aimed at profit in any way. All these are exclusively image moves, the benefits of which are calculated for a very long-term perspective. Many brands are already throwing their strength into fighting the virus. Fashion brands, including Saint Laurent, Balenciaga and Gucci, have started producing medical masks (not ordinary, consumer). LVMH directed the capacity of cosmetic production to create sanitizers. Technology giants like Tesla, Ford, and Dyson have invested and directed their power to the production of ventilators. Some solutions seem particularly interesting. For example, alcohol producer Diageo will provide free “neutral grain alcohol” — 96% ethyl alcohol used mainly for the production of vodka and gin-to manufacturers of disinfectants in different countries. Other companies are taking other, equally important measures. For example, Chanel reported that they are going to independently pay salaries to all employees of the company until May 8th.

But what should companies that are not able to invest their budgets in this type of projects do? Ellen Bridge, the founder of the communications company, says that in this case, the best choice is just to stay connected. Not to promote your products under the influence of quarantine or social distancing, but just to create a very personal message that will help people see other people behind brand logos. “Social media is a place where we can be more open,” Bridge says. — A meaningful, personal message can lift your mood. This format of communication — motivating and inspiring is more relevant today than ever.

There is a time to move and a time to remain still. Even at home, our imagination can lead us anywhere. Such a serious situation will not prevent us from dreaming. Our will is strong, our duty is to resist, and we will continue to dream, stronger than ever, and we will rise stronger than ever.

On the other hand, according to experts, shopping is one of the few ways to distract themselves and feel in control. This pattern helps us maintain the same lifestyle, at least in some aspects, thereby calming our nervous system. Bret Koln founder and CEO of the strategy and branding consulting group admitted that coronavirus puts brands and companies in a difficult position. They really need to keep in touch with consumers. “Unfortunately, there is no one right way, but there are hundreds of wrong ways,” notes Koln.

In this case, one good rule of thumb works: “Always err on the side of humanity.”

Too often we think that our business is much more important than it really is. While our businesses do play an important role in the lives of some, they are usually not so important to all of humanity. If your message is about the bigger picture, it will be felt and guarantee that your brand is acting accordingly.

What is left for us in the end? If we sum up all the above, we can conclude that in times of crisis, we should all remain human and try to help those who are in trouble. “Human marketing” — perhaps this is how you can call the strategies that are born at this moment.

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