In Mandarin, the word crisis has two parts: danger and opportunity. No matter how difficult circumstances are, no matter how dangerous the situation, at the heart of each crisis lies a concealed opportunity.
Fortune favours the brave and brands that choose to be brave find ways to bounce back even stronger than before. It is in times like these that new business models come into existence, allowing brands to grow exponentially and gain share disproportionately. So how can brands navigate their way through these unprecedented times?
1. Don’t Wait For Recovery
First things first, adapt! Heed a call to arms and get to the drawing board immediately. Nothing will happen by itself. It may take months for things to go back to normal. Prioritise the big-ticket items and focus on what matters.
2. Continue Brand Building
Some companies, especially those operating in categories that have taken the biggest hit during the lockdowns, have decided to slash their marketing spends because consumption in their categories has taken a nosedive. In my opinion, they should continue to invest in their brands because the storm is not going to subside anytime soon. Consistent investment will poise them well for the recovery phase. The question is what and how to communicate.
3. Re-Imagine Consumer Communication
Brands should revisit their brand purpose and reflect on how to remain relevant in this new reality. Their existing brand purpose and associated communication may not be relevant anymore. As far as the messaging mood is concerned, carry an empathetic tone without sounding opportunistic. Show that your brand cares.
4. Rebalance Media Touch-Points
As the situation evolves, so do media consumption habits. With more and more people staying at home, the consumption of TV and digital content has increased manifold. Also, within digital, there has been a shift from Facebook and Instagram to YouTube which is primarily a long form video content platform. This is because people have more time at their disposal now. At the same time, OOH media has seen a sharp decline. Brands should re-evaluate their media split, keeping the above trend in view.
5. Know Your Consumer Deeply
The situation will keep evolving rapidly as people move out of restricted living and adjust to the new normal. Consumer insights will change accordingly. Keep track of consumer behaviour (especially on digital search) and sentiments around your brand and category. Highlight key benefits that help address a new consumer need. Rediscover your product truth. Be transparent. People value the truth.
6. Innovate to Win
People may change their habits due to reprioritisation and a realisation of the need to focus on what is important in life or they may simply decide to do without certain things they now deem non-essential. Consumers are willing to try new things in desperate times and brands should not shy away from experimenting. Brands should see how they can carve out new demand moments and address these with their product and service offerings.
7. Think New Channels
As shopping behaviour changes, redesign your route to market. Be present where shopper footfall is increasing. There has been a shift from traditional to modern trade following the lockdowns. E-commerce is definitely gaining momentum and these behaviour changes are likely to last post COVID-19. If we look back, we can track the emergence of Alibaba as an e-commerce giant to the SARS outbreak in 2003.
The epidemic provided the company a conducive climate to disrupt traditional trade while people were quarantined in their homes. The launch of Careem Super App may be the harbinger of such a change in Pakistan.
8. Activate CSR
Now more than ever, consumers are looking to corporate giants to give back to society. Brands are only as strong as the communities they are a part of. Support COVID-19 response efforts in ways that work for your brand: monetary support, product donations, equipment, expertise, etc.
Last but not the least be ready for the ‘after’ when the world emerges from this crisis. One cannot stress enough on the need to remain agile and be prepared when this happens.
Your thoughts? I would love to have your feedback.
Affan Cheema is a marketing professional in FMCG industry. The views expressed here are personal and do not reflect the views of the writer’s company.