The coronavirus pandemic has changed the business environment forever. Some companies have collapsed, while others have prospered, and working practices may never be the same again.

However, the last few months have given us an indication of the changes every marketer needs to make to survive

Here’s 5 insights that can inform your autumn marketing strategy. 

Scarcity

One major lesson the crisis has taught us is the impact of perceived scarcity. Fears of grocery shortages caused bulk buying across the globe – the more empty shelves were shown the further the demand increased.covid-19

Consumers immediate response to perceived scarcity is to buy quickly and think later. While none of us want to see the coronavirus panic buying scenes repeated, there is definitely a lesson here for marketers.

Have you underutilised scarcity marketing in the past for your products or services? It can be immensely effective. ‘Time limited’ offers, ‘exclusive’ deals, and ‘while stocks last’ promotions all help to push a customer closer to a sale.

Using scarcity in your marketing strategy induces FOMO (fear of missing out) in the consumer mindset, and can help to make your products much more desirable. 

Substitutions

Of course, the pandemic made scarcity a real thing, not just a marketing tactic. In some industries there has been a massive over demand for certain products or services.

covid-19 shopping

An example of this is staycations or domestic holidays – people cannot travel freely so they now choose to holiday in their own country, causing huge demand and scarcity of accomodation. Other truly scarce products early in the pandemic were hand gel or face masks.

Again, this teaches business owners and marketers a crucial lesson – when people struggle to buy because of real scarcity they will substitute instead.

Customers may be forced to choose a competitors brand or try a similar but different product. This is a very important moment as people who substitute due to lack of product availability may never return to their initial first choice brand. 

In short, substitution can kill brand loyalty. Here’s a few tips to try and dissuade customers from going elsewhere:

  • Aim to keep all products in stock
  • If a product is unavailable, offer a substitution before customers seek it from a competitor
  • Ensure the customer does not lose out financially. Price match or make the substituted product a lower price than the original.
  • Offer discount coupons for when the product is back in stock, to try and avoid losing long-term custom.

Virtual

The shift to virtual has accelerated hugely because of covid-19. Zoom has seen growth of 2000% in the UK alone, with their user base growing from 659,000 to 13 million adults in April in just three months!

zoom call

Team meetings now happen largely by virtual meetings but there is also a strong desire from customers to use virtual technology to try and regain the sense of community that they are missing from being unable to visit shops in person. 

This presents an opportunity for marketers…

Regular webinars, or live videos on Facebook and Instagram can help to keep a brand alive and retain the consumer connection that is vital for brand loyalty.

Any business, large or small can use live video in a number of ways:

  • New product launches
  • Free product tutorials
  • Q and A fan sessions
  • Competition announcements

Creating regular personalised experiences will definitely help to keep existing customers, and fight against the erosion in brand loyalty that the pandemic is causing.

Visibility

Recent research shows that 57% of people who shop online have made a purchase from an online marketplace since March. However only 13% have made a purchase from a stand-alone brand website.

online visibility

This shows us that people are seeking out the best deals and are actively comparing products against each other. This shouldn’t really be surprising as consumers disposable incomes have fallen significantly.

For marketers, these statistics demonstrate the value of expanded visibility across the internet. If website sales have bombed during the pandemic, opening an Amazon, eBay, or Etsy shop may be a great way to get sales back on track.

Obviously, there are fees involved in third party marketplaces, but if that is where your customers are, it’s where you need to be.

As extra proof of the current popularity of online marketplaces, Amazon recently announced that their revenues jumped by 40% during the second quarter of 2020 when lockdowns took hold.

Own Label

Sales of own label products have grown significantly during the pandemic for two main reasons:

  • Customers having to substitute from their usual brand because of scarcity.
  • People seeking less expensive alternatives due to their income levels dropping.

strong brand

For businesses that sell own label and third party products or services, it therefore makes sense to focus more on expanding and pushing their own brand range during the crisis.

Not only could this strategy increase sales, but it may also significantly increase business profits. Own brand products have higher profit margins (there’s no % cut to a third party). In addition, as own brand labels are exclusive, they can create loyalty to your store.

Ensure your website highlights own-label deals prominently, and be sure to mention the great value these products provide through your email marketing campaigns.

Summary

Here’s a quick overview of the key take-outs to guide your autumn marketing campaigns:

  • Scarcity – Incorporate scarcity tactics on your promotions by using phrases like ‘time limited’, ‘while stocks last’, and ‘exclusive’.
  • Substitutions – Guard against customers going elsewhere by keeping products in stock or offering a similar product at the point of sale. If out of stock, give a discount coupon to try and maintain brand loyalty.
  • Virtual – Use the popularity of video to retain existing customers. Hold product launches, Q and A sessions, and competitions using Facebook and Instagram Live.
  • Visibility – Increase the reach of your products or services by joining online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, or Etsy. The use of online marketplaces has soared during the pandemic.
  • Own Label – Push own label products more. They are currently very popular with buyers seeking better value deals, and they provide a business boost by having higher profit margins.

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