Smart Marketing in Pandemic Times

With the invasion of the pandemic, our already planned marketing plans will now take a pause and would require businesses to revisit the marketing plans to coincide with the emerging new consumer trends.


The need of a smart marketing plan

A marketing plan is all about a company’s strategy for how you will communicate with your target audience and influence them to buy your products or services. The deadly contagion of Coronavirus has brought the economy and businesses to their knees. It has altered the rules of marketing. Now, startups need to opt for a smart marketing approach, as for a start-up, the herculean task is to maximize reach and bring in more customers.

To maximize reach and awareness, the newly begun start-ups should think upon creating marketing plans that should be in tandem with the current consumer behaviour in the ongoing pandemic.  After a start-up has received immense reach and awareness amongst its target consumers, its work does not get over. For a venture to survive, the young business needs to retain loyal and satisfied customers where the next step will be to create a brand recall.  

New trends of consumer behaviour in the pandemic

 The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has brought a drastic change in consumer behaviour. It has inflicted emotions of fear, anxiety, and restlessness further worsened by pay cuts in salary, job insecurity, facing operational challenges of working from home thus leaving the consumers with a negative and cautious mindset. It is anticipated that this behaviour will persist until the vaccine is ready.

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The Covid-19 pandemic has established a 'digital first' lifestyle for the majority of the global population.

New consumer trends to design smart marketing plans

Slow Out-of-Home consumption

Though lockdown restrictions have been easing gradually, the footfall in restaurants, malls, showrooms, cinema theatres, café shops will experience a decline in footfall as compared to the pre-Covid-19 times. People want to minimize store visits as much as possible that will eventually create a spike in online purchases for buying essentials and food products with take-away and home delivery options becoming an essential part of the business. 

Buying behaviour

It has fuelled the urban consumers to buy larger pack sizes to minimise visits to shops or stores wherein rural the proclivity of buying will be for smaller sizes and sachets to conserve money. 

Becoming self-dependent

 Heightened concerns of hygiene has made people do their laundry, haircut and spa, housecleaning, and car wash that once required others. There will be an uptick in demand for brands that will provide products or services with DIY or tutorial videos.

Sustainable buying

The current survivalist mentality will make consumers more mindful of what they are buying. There will be a tendency to limit food waste, spend less on luxury products, and choose more sustainable options. A recent report from Accenture says that in the coming decades, 82% of the consumers will be making more sustainable choices for buying. While Gen-Z enters the workforce, they will favour buying from companies that are more ethical and conscious. That will also open new avenues for start-ups to explore new business models in sustainable products. 

Focus on health and hygiene

 With normalcy restoring in people’s lives, there will be heightened concerns on hygiene and a leading a healthy lifestyle. Highlighting the hygiene measures taken by some of their delivery persons or enabling contactless deliveries and payments will ensure trust again. Customers also perceive value in such brands where initiatives like promoting wellness and building resilience through online fitness classes, mediation, yoga, art therapy, and other wellness solutions.

Digital lifestyle

Post Covid-19, consumers will look forward to availing services that provide digital solutions that limit people movement, reduces cost, and yet increases productivity, for example- video conferencing, telemedicine and EdTech, etc.

Smart marketing plan for a better reach

Crisis is the real litmus test for start-ups here. It is a test to see how humane the start-ups are to their customers in unprecedented times.  To maximize reach, start-ups must first create value for its consumer. A smart marketing plan in a crisis is the one that encompasses relevant content, excellent customer problem solving, competitor analysis, and offers comfort that is modified to fit best with the current needs of the consumer. 

Offer convenience

One of the ways to begin with smart marketing is offer convenience.Individuals are juggling to maintain work-life balance, pursuing higher studies hence leaving them lacking for time. For start-ups to get the attention of the time-deprived target audience, start-ups need to deliver convenience. For this, we need to create an information portal that acts as a one-stop destination to answer all the queries of the consumer. The experience of shopping for products or availing services or booking appointments should be hassle-free where they should offer multiple payment options, a smooth-running user interface, and excellent customer- care support by leveraging technology like AI, Chatbots and Bigdata. 

Bring out the relevance

The young entrepreneurs should highlight the relevance of the product or service and how it can be beneficial to the customer. In today’s digital milieu, entrepreneurs should reach out to their target audience through multiple online channels showcasing tutorials or DIY videos of their product hence emphasizing unique ways that your current offering can fulfill the target audience’s needs. 

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During the pandemic, usage of social media has increased upto 87 %.

-Hammerkopf Consumer Survey

Focus on social media marketing

The rise in usage of social media by 87% in the pandemic is speaking volumes about the audience’s presence in social media. The creation of content that is in line with current customer sentiment and feedback that adds value by educating and entertaining is certainly going to drive customer engagement. 

Building goodwill

Reach out to the needy communities by donating, volunteering, or collaborating with other businesses with a motive to better serve the community. Philanthropic activities will help increase community support, goodwill, and brand awareness. Encouraging employees to take part in corporate social responsibility will infuse a positive work culture. Also, using influencer marketing and vernacular content will be effective in reaching your audience and building credibility as they can spread social awareness messages in regional languages where the audience will be most comfortable within.  

Auditing sales funnel

It is necessary to do a competitive analysis. In a dynamic business environment, it is essential to thoroughly audit your sales funnel and analyse the data to bring changes in marketing plans. 

Proactive communication to reduce anxiety

It is majorly applicable to the service industries. Being proactive and maintaining transparency in communications help in reducing anxiety and gives a level of customer satisfaction. Proactively informing customers about refunds, delays, cancellation policies, availability of stocks, regular temperature checks of employees, or delivery men and hygiene measures at the stores keeps customer worries at bay. Companies can ensure that their communication with customers is simple, clear, and reduces effort to comprehend. 

What Not to Do 

We must acknowledge the current state of affairs in the messaging of our marketing plan, but care is to be taken that we do not flood our target audience with generic information but educational or entertaining marketing messages that add value and enhance the customer experience.

Avoid being desperate for sales or over-promotion of your products or services. With a slowdown in the economy and pay cuts, there will be a tendency for judicious spending. People might perceive the company or brand to be insensitive or greedy for over promotion for sales. Ensure that every communication you have with your customers has a purpose and value, whether it be on your website, through email, or on social media. As the social and economic situation changes, adjust your marketing strategy accordingly.

For newly begun ventures, the pandemic induced lifestyle will be the new normal, where the marketing plans should be tailor-made to suit the customer interests for maximizing reach. 

To learn more about the essentials of marketing, read ‘7Ps of Marketing.

Shalmoli Sarkar
Shalmoli Sarkar
An MBA in marketing and a BTech in chemical engineering, Shalmoli writes on marketing strategies and business technology for new and aspiring entrepreneurs.

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