With all the excellent disruptive marketing strategies out there, no one anticipated adding a pandemic to the mix! COVID-19 totally disrupted the way we internet, shifted consumer buying behaviour and transformed the entire sales cycle. Forever.

Daily routines such as going to the gym, work, shopping, and hanging out with friends became non-existent, household budgets severely diminished due to unemployment, while the lag time in receiving government grants left consumers cash strapped. This immediate and immense change created a myriad of challenges for businesses, as they suddenly had to find a new way to approach, engage, and connect with consumers. Lockdown forced businesses and consumers to reinvent the way we buy and shifted consumer behaviour online, even for those who previously were resistant to the idea. Many retail brands had to reduce their retail footprint significantly or completely shut down shop.

What this pandemic did highlight though is how connected we all are, what we are willing to sacrifice for the greater good and that online conversations can be almost as meaningful as face-to-face interactions.

It is a fact that COVID-19 changed consumer buying behaviour for good.

Businesses who have their consumer channels ready, invested in digital strategies and developed excellent online customer experience have a significant head start, while others will require new skills to prepare for the new normal in shopping habits and expectations. Here are a few ways you can be ready for whatever comes next.

Double Down Do not cut back because the economy is predicted to get hit and experts say we are going into a recession. The best time to double down is when others are not or in Warren Buffett’s words “Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful”. You may not see the biggest return right away, but in the long run you will.

Do not fire Marketing With internet usage up by as much as 70%, consumers may not be buying, but they are engaging. This is not the time to cut back on marketing. Instead, aim for authenticity and value. Explore new ways and opportunities to connect with your consumers such as using content to create powerful online engagement, speak about customers’ concerns and humanise your brand.

Mirror consumer priorities Simply expecting to resume business as usual once COVID-19 settles down while consumer behaviour has permanently been changed, is not smart. The development of new products, solutions, services and methods of service delivery, and new ways of engaging with consumers and understanding their behaviour is crucial.

Strike a balance Figure out how to inspire people to follow your brand in a way that embraces their needs right now. Consumers want to support businesses who support their concerns in return. Nike for example asked consumers to ‘play inside, play for the world’ and backed their message up with a campaign that waived fees for premium programming on the Nike Training Club app.

Do the right thing More so than ever do consumers want to know whether your products are sustainably sourced or not. A 2018 research done by Mintel indicated that 73% of consumers are influenced by companies’ charitable giving when making purchase decisions – so this means it will matter more in future. Also, it goes without saying, do not exploit the current situation to make a quick buck.

HULK Media is a Marketing and Sales Consultancy who empowers businesses with custom data-driven strategies and actionable insights that grow revenue. We love talking marketing, so get in touch.