Marketing Trends From Covid-19 That Are Here to Stay

3 min read

The QR code has made a comeback and Steve Madden can register you to vote- what else is new?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the world of marketing has been shaken and brands have been forced to quickly and accurately respond to stark changes in consumer behavior. With minimal time to adapt, brands are attempting to prioritize consumer concerns revolving around less contact, more online shopping, and the push for brands to speak out and align with their personal values. Many of these new marketing and consumer trends were slowly beginning to take hold, but the fast pace has expedited the process. Of the many new changes in consumer behavior and marketing, which of these trends will stick around for the long haul?

QR Codes in Hospitality

QR codes left a bad taste in many people’s mouth in the past, but with the simplicity of scanning one by opening the camera on a smartphone without first downloading an app, this underappreciated piece of technology has made a comeback thanks to COVID-19. Much of the hospitality industry has taken advantage of these codes to take consumers directly to a menu, register/check-in page, loyalty program, and more.

Not only are they easy to use for consumers, but QR code information is easily updated without having to mess with the code itself.

In addition to hospitality uses, business offices like SAP are using it as a no-touch option for employees to receive daily updates.

The only downside, according to hotel owner Edmund Inkin, is that it limits the personable human interaction in hospitality, which is why they are finding ways to use QR codes to limit interpersonal contact but not necessarily interpersonal human connection.

 Contactless Payments

Technically, there is no concrete evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted through credit cards or cash, but still retailers are responding to consumer concerns of reducing this form of contact anyway.

The National Retail Federation conducted a survey in which they found, “Since January, no-touch payments have increased for 69 percent of retailers surveyed. And 19% of consumers have made first contactless digital purchase since May”.

The only challenge for retailers lies in the cost. Contactless is significantly more expensive because each transaction entails a card processing fee not found in cash transactions.

Despite this fact, well-known brands have already been working to implement this new technology in their stores. Speaking on contactless payment methods Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay: “Since then, each of them has partnered with retail chains for in-store transactions, including thousands of outlets for Walmart, Nike, Costco, Macy’s, Starbucks, McDonald’s, and Trader Joe’s”.

Online shopping with Live Chat

A big piece of in-store shopping that cannot be found online is the interaction between product and consumer, and between consumer and consultant. In order to combat this discrepancy, online shopping sites are working to increase their customer service and interactive capabilities through live chat and social media to induce a similar interactive experience as in store

Online marketing agency, Dotdigital found that 33% of brands have implemented live chat features onto their e-commerce websites and 71% utilized Facebook messenger and Twitter for live customer service.

Even prior to the pandemic, online retailer Design Within Reach developed a new website prioritizing additional customer service resources like live chat. They have discovered that customers who use the chat are 9x more likely to purchase and their purchases are 25% higher. Their online chat features allow customers to ask simple product questions and even receive help and feedback for designing a room.

Social media communities

Digital Market News conducted a poll of 1,000 consumers in the UK and found that consumers aged 16-24 are extremely interested in becoming part of a brand community. This “brand community” allows consumers who feel a connection or attachment to a specific brand to become part of a larger group of people who feel similarly. In this community, they can share their experiences with the products, make recommendations and interact with the brand itself.

On the flip side, brands can also join other private groups related to niche topics that align with their values and/or brand mission. They can do this through Facebook groups which allow pages to join private groups. Brandastic explains this concept simply: “Essentially, this means a brand can act as a person inside of a group.” The only warning to brands is to stray from acting too much like a “brand” or a salesman in these groups and focus on interactions and actively participating in discussions.

Brands Taking Part in Social Change

Increasingly, consumers are becoming more aware of how brands respond to certain movements, including those to improve the environment, using “clean” ingredients and more recently, social injustices.

Over the past several months, racial injustices in the United States have enhanced the need for brands to relate to their consumers, the majority of whom feel a strong responsibility to take a stand against these issues.

According to a study reported by Consulting.US and conducted by Edelman, 60% of consumers feel that a brand should speak out on social injustices. Another 60% said they would NOT purchase from a brand who does not share their personal values.

CEO Richard Edelman back in 2018 even, said “Brands are now being pushed to go beyond their classic business interests to become advocates. It is a new relationship between company and consumer, where purchase is premised on the brand’s willingness to live its values, act with purpose, and if necessary, make the leap into activism”.

Most brands will take the side that the majority of their target audience aligns with. Specifically, politics plays a major role in this idea. Only 40% of Republican consumers versus 80% of Democrat consumers urge brands to take a stand on these social issues.

With the upcoming election, many brands are also encouraging consumers to use their own voice in the voting polls. Steve Madden earlier this year launched an in-store campaign to register young people to vote and have since moved these efforts online.

Not only do brands need to speak out, they need to start taking action to prove to consumers that they can uphold their promises. Lisa Ross of Edelman believes this change is here to stay: “This is a moment, but it’s not just a moment in time. It begins what will likely be a sustained and systemic shift by companies and brands, in partnership with their employees and consumers”.

The COVID-19 pandemic has wildly shifted marketing and brand priorities as they try to keep up with the ever-changing needs and values of consumers. Many marketing trends that have emerged since that pandemic are temporary (think trendy masks, loungewear, and increased email marketing), many of these new changes are here to stay. If one positive thing came out of a worldwide pandemic, let’s say it was the effort between brands and consumers to maintain a personal relationship despite these challenging times.

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