Published on 6th Apr 2020

The Effect
The undertones of the pandemic are everywhere, constantly playing on our mind, our social feed and on every screen we use. COVID-19 has impacted the world in every possible way from medicine to economic standing, mental well-being and change in consumer behaviour.

Placing the world on hold. Industrial production, retail sales, aviation services, local businesses and other SME industries have come to a grinding halt and its impact is already visible, with an expedited economic slowdown. Companies are challenged with finding a strategy that keeps them going. Those with a clear vision, strong management and partner fidelity are in the best position to survive and transcend this crisis,drawing on goodwill to get back to business as quickly as possible, when the crisis abates.

Photo Credit: unsplash-logoErik Mclean

Emotionally, people are struggling to switch from human contact to virtual interactions. While social distancing is crucial, it has also introduced the world to a social recession. On the other hand, it has opened doors for new learnings and a rediscovery of long lost hobbies. Family time has increased but loneliness and isolation have made people realise the joy ofsocialising. Yes, panic and uncertainty exist but hope prevails and is the essence of the present in this time.

Changing Consumer Habits
At present, the world is figuring out a way to fit into survival mode. Whether it is living a minimalist lifestyle or adapting to the changing situation. But, will this phase bring a permanent change in consumer behaviour?

Baby boomers have started learning how to navigate the online space, from online shopping to banking, they're open to now experimenting with new things rather than being fixated on old habits and comforts.. News consumption is increasing. Consumers have become more health and hygiene conscious. The attitude of ‘I want it now’ is shifting to ‘I can wait’.

Once the crisis is in the rear-view mirror, they are more likely to change their buying patterns, travel plans, working style and financial management. Personal finances and layoffs are a matter of concern for salaried employees and this might result in a change of lifestyle and saving patterns.

The Shifting Trends

This pandemic has spared no one, disrupting the advertising industry as well. Consumers are starting to question brand messages and communication. They expect earnestness in the messaging instead of fun in this time of a crisis. They would like to see their favourite brands be honest, positive and responsible in their actions. As a result, brand communication strategies are changing overnight, and brands are reinventing themsleves to stay relevant. There is a drastic change in brand imagery and tone of communication with rands becoming more sensitive and mindful in their campaigns. For example:

  1. McDonald’s, Audi and Volkswagen tweaked their logos for their social media accounts.

  2. Nike launched a social media campaign with its global roster of star athletes including NBA player LeBron James and golfer Tiger Woods. Sports events have ground to a halt over the last few weeks because of social distancing rules and the ban on large gatherings. This Nike campaign encourages people to play inside.
  3. KFC has paused its latest "Finger-Lickin’ Good" campaign in the U.K. amid concerns that ads encouraging customers to lick their hands are ill-timed amid the global spread of the novel coronavirus.
  4. Hershey has temporarily withdrawn ads with hugs and handshakes.
  5. Source: CNBC; Published on 17th March 2020

The Takeaway - Opportunity Amidst A Crisis

Undoubtedly, this global crisis will make its mark in history – the question is, are we hitting a giant reset button? e We are already noticing a drastic effect on the economy, consumers, industries, brands, healthcare… but how is the market going to react and adjust? Only time will tell.

But it is safe to deduce that amidst this challenging time lies an enormous opportunity. The ongoing crisis is ramping upthe pressure. While some companies now have products and services on high demand; others are struggling to drive sales, which proves that more digital solutions for brands are the way forward.

Apps that are adding value to people's lives are seeing a prodigious response . For example:

  1. Grocery, food and medicine delivery apps like BigBasket, Swiggy and MedLife.
  2. Entertainment apps like Netflix and Amazon Video.
  3. Virtual meeting apps for making working from home easy like Zoom and WebEx.
  4. Health and wellness apps for keeping calm and positive - Headspace.
  5. Music streaming apps like Spotify and Gaana.

The market right now is sensitive. Showing support for consumers, keeping the lines of communication open with them and adjusting strategies accordingly will posit companies for an impactful reset post the COVID-19 crisis.

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