Will it stick? : Every once in a while there is a defining event that causes disruption and changes consumer behaviour. The Covid pandemic is just such an event.

Jelly babies

Predicting the future isn’t always as difficult as it seems. In most market sectors there are long-term trends, environmental factors and developments in technology to follow, and when you combine that with exceptional data modelling, reasonable assumptions can be made, notwithstanding the ability of human beings to act irrationally on occasion.

But every once in a while there is a defining event that causes disruption and changes consumer behaviour. The Covid pandemic is just such an event. Almost overnight there was a near complete shift to online shopping and remote working. The time we spent looking at or talking to a screen increased exponentially. The impact on our lives, socially, culturally and economically has been profound.

We have been migrating towards more digital living at a steady pace over the last two decades but the pandemic has accelerated that shift and many brands needed to ramp up their investment in digital media, commerce and technology. Some brands were able to adapt at speed, others were not. Every war has casualties.

So, digital acceleration is the new business imperative. But is it a panacea? After all this short-term investment the big question on many marketers minds is ‘Will it stick?’ Has consumer behaviour changed forever and therefore our relationship with them?

In the event of Covid we have been forced to embrace digital channels rather than necessarily having the desire to do so, and let’s be honest, this forced embrace goes against what it is to be human. We are a highly socialised species that feeds on community and human contact.

That is not to say that once we are out of the water we will ditch everything that we had previously embraced but it should give brands pause for thought and consider the following.

Brand has never been more important - Before the pandemic consumers were loyal to their brands for reasons like habit, convenience and price. 2020 shattered brand loyalty, one study by McKinsey reflected this, highlighting that 36% of consumers tried a new product brand and 33% have tried a new retailer. So, investing in brand marketing to create stronger attachment has to be the new goal. Brands need to think about why they matter.

Build the right customer experience - It's important to acknowledge that some products and services are better experienced through digital channels whilst others benefit much more in the ‘real’ world and for some it is both. The question is How do you build an experience that balances business and consumer centricity: What does integrating a screen experience with a human touch look like and how important is it to my brands success.

Context is king - The home has become a multi-functional hub and whilst some of us are itching to get back to the office, many will want to retain the advantages (even part-time) of working remotely. Brands will need to look for ways to engage with smart devices and interfaces across the home and think about a broader range of media channels (e.g gaming). In addition, the fact that ‘local’ has become more important means renewed focus on the opportunity addressable media offers.

Change is not new to marketing. COVID has induced change on a scale that none of us could have imagined but it’s not new. We need to forensically examine our brands, our operating models, our environment and our customers. Consumer behaviour is in flux right now and will continue to be for some time. The ability to pivot quickly will become a competitive advantage. This is an opportunity to reset and expect positive outcomes that do not force us to return to the ‘old’ normal that only partially served us.

Over the next few weeks in a series of articles we’ll be examining in more detail those behaviours that we believe are here to stay, those that we will embrace once more and the subsequent impact that brands and businesses will need to anticipate.

Ed Ling is Chief Growth and Operations Officer at MediaCom Ireland

Looking for inspiration?

Sign up to keep updated by our thought leaders on brand growth and media trends.

Sign Up
CTA right arrow