A lot has changed in eight weeks. As the COVID-19 outbreak and resulting state-by-state quarantines have caused massive shifts in day-to-day life, brands are scrambling to keep up.
But for all these changes, there’s at least one constant: the human need for connection. Even if we’re living in a 2-D video world (Zoom, FaceTime, et al), people are still people and more than anything, people want to connect. As your business navigates this shifting landscape, it’s more important than ever to connect with customers on a human level. That could mean making a funny video or sharing an authentic moment on social media. The goal is to make that human-to-human connection.
But there are some practical things to keep an eye on too:
1. Shifts in Online Shopping
Although online shopping has been ubiquitous for years, online sales have skyrocketed during the quarantine. E-commerce spending in the U.S. is up more than 30% from the beginning of March through mid-April compared with the same period last year, according to market research firm Rakuten Intelligence.
Besides spending more online, shoppers are buying a wider range of products. In addition to personal consumer goods like clothing and electronics, people are increasingly buying groceries, health & beauty products and other daily essentials. According to NetElixir, online food sales have increased by 430%, online gift sales are up 74% and online sales of pet supplies jumped 42% during the first week of April, 2020.
2. Digitization and DIY
Brands are digitizing to reach consumers in their homes. Although direct mail is likely more effective during the quarantine than before, the path to the most consumers is increasingly digital. Gyms and trainers are making fitness videos so members can work out at home. Auto repair shops are making DIY videos for simple, at-home auto repair tasks. Banks are offering online financial courses. Even bars are making videos on how to make drinks at home.
3. Interactive Messaging
As quarantine wears on, consumers are showing greater interest in messages that are interactive. For example, a liquor company places an ad on Facebook quizzing (age-eligible) consumers about their favorite cocktails. Interacting with a brand builds consumer trust and loyalty, especially when everyone is a little bored.
4. Tailored Messages
Brands are tailoring messages to connect with consumers on a deeper level. They do this by creating a message that fits a specific group’s beliefs, interests, or values. Brands who use tailored messaging are minimizing their audience in order to maximize results.
5. Supporting Local
Consumers are switching to local brands and products. A lot of this has to do with trying to support their local businesses and helping our economy as a whole. “Hometown pride” is making a revival among consumers, as it has become more important than ever to stay connected during isolation.
6. Buying In Bulk
Warehouse retailers such as Costco, have unsurprisingly experienced an increase in sales during the quarantine. Consumers are finding essential items at warehouse chains when other stores have run out of stock. Buying in bulk has also become widespread as people reduce the number of trips they make outside the home and maintain larger stores of pantry staples, in addition to saving money per unit.
Some of these changes are likely to outlast the quarantine. But at least one thing is not likely to change: the human need for connection. Brands that are built on human connection are likely to do well in the years ahead.
Here is further reading about how your business can adapt to these trends: