It was Monday the 16th March when Boris Johnson advised the nation against “non-essential” travel and contact with others, suggesting people should avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and more significantly, encouraging work from home if possible. Like Big Cat, this was a mini-watershed moment for a myriad of businesses across the UK who had to hastily assemble Covid-19 contingency plans at a time when we still knew relatively little about what we were dealing with and even less about what was to come.
Since this date, as a marketing agency, we have come to understand the virus and what business now looks like with a little more clarity, naturally however this understanding differs from industry to industry. In reference to the world of marketing, the one certainty right now is uncertainty. The likelihood is this piece may be redundant in a couple of weeks due to the current climate of change. The marketing industry moves fast, and even faster during a pandemic.
So where does marketing stand right now?
According to Marketing Week 86% of marketers are now having to postpone or review their marketing campaigns which is “up from 55% just three weeks ago” as the industry is still struggling to get to grips with the new climate of uncertainty it finds itself operating in. Following on from this, they also stated that “90% of marketers say their budget commitments have been delayed or are under review”, this is a 30% increase from just 3 weeks ago.
One of the most stark figures posted, but also one of the least surprising is the percentage of marketers that have had to “change their marketing strategy”, this number has risen from 18% to 62% in the aforementioned 3 week period. This revision in marketing strategy has included such schemes as “new discounting, messaging and partnerships” to name a few.
What does this prove?
It proves that marketing doesn’t ever stop, only the messages change as well as the ways in which marketers choose to communicate them. Marketers, whether they like it or not, are going to be forced into a perennial mindset. Mark Ritson wrote for Marketing Week at the start of this crisis that brands would be forced to think long-term by focusing on brand building and honouring their core company values.
On top of this, one other key message is that as marketers we should not “shy away from talking about customers and business in the age of coronavirus”. Whilst it may feel a tad frivolous to be geared towards consumer insight and company profits as we come toe to toe with the “greatest challenge in health and social care in at least a generation”, Ritson details the “practical reality of global economic trade means that we need to market now for the good of all mankind”. He has a point.
So let’s do as Ritson would and marketing professionals should. Let’s talk about current consumer behaviour.
We are already starting to see a shift in behavioural economics thanks to the pandemic. WARC has already reported what it believes to be patterns and changes in consumer buying behaviour that have been instigated or exacerbated by the Covid-19 outbreak. One of these is the decline in luxury spending. Based on Kantar data from China – 61% of consumers have reduced or eradicated their luxury spend, and 21% plan to carry on doing so once the recovery starts.
We are looking at two sides of the same coin here, as industries specialising in disease prevention and healthy foods look set to continue to thrive in a post-Covid world. Finally, cashless payment options and e-commerce look set to become the beneficiaries of a global community thrust into isolation, compounding the current decline in cash payments. These are trends though, and trends by nature can be transient or indelible, only time will tell. We are talking about current consumer trends after all.
Let’s hope before anything, the principal legacy of this pandemic is a business and marketing world ready to better embrace the benevolent virtues demonstrated daily by the brilliant individuals leading the fight against this virus.
Find out more about Big Cat’s views in our latest LinkedIn article by our Creative Director, John Sharp.