The trends that will stay with us and change marketing after COVID-19

Trends and insights
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We occasionally feature marketing insights from top community and thought leaders in the industry. Here, Avi Dan from Forbes shares his thoughts on which marketing trends will stay and change post-pandemic. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has abruptly altered consumers’ behaviors and attitudes, upending brands’ marketing strategies and plans. Now, roughly eight months into the pandemic in the US, we're just beginning to gain a better understanding of the impact of these changes in the short and long terms, and just how brands must adapt to the ‘new normal’.

It's fair to say that we already know of five central disruptive shifts that would influence consumers’ attitudes and behaviors, post the pandemic:

Digital shopping is here to stay

Physical distancing and stay-at-home customs have forced whole consumer segments to shop differently. The dramatic rise in the adoption of e-commerce and omnichannel services sees no sign of abating. The latest data suggests that there will be a huge increase of 169% in e-commerce purchases, from new or low-frequency users post-outbreak. And what’s more, the vast majority of consumers who have increased their use of digital and omnichannel services, such as home delivery, curbside pickup, or shopping via social media platforms, expect to sustain these activities in the future.

Brand loyalty is eroding

This general change of behavior in response to COVID-19 has also been reflected in a shattering of brand loyalties. Almost half of consumers are trying new brands, and a third are incorporating new private-label brands into their shopping repertoire. For marketers, this highlights the need to quickly become aware of when shoppers are migrating between brands. The recovery cycle will favor those brands that increase promotional activity to reinforce relationships with consumers. According to Forrester Research, business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers will increase their spending on loyalty and retention marketing by 15% in 2021, all the while cutting back on product or performance-based marketing.

Balancing sustainability and hygiene

There will be strong intent to continue contactless activities, such as the increased usage of self-checkout at retail. Single-use packaging will continue to be popular at the expense of reusable packaging. However, sustainability goals will not be abandoned and fast-moving consuming goods (FMCG) companies and retailers will stay committed to long-term decarbonization. 

Marketing localization

With more consumers moving out of urban areas and to the suburbs and rural regions, localized marketing will become more prominent. Two-thirds of consumers, according to Accenture, are shopping primarily in neighborhood stores, or buying more locally-sourced products. Localized content and personalization will be more important than ever in order to strengthen a connection with the audience. Localization will also accelerate marketing automation and data mining as marketers struggle to get a better grip of ROI.

The rise of the crib economy

Americans are spending their at-home time on work and domestic activities. Usage of popular online entertainment platforms has skyrocketed. As economies reopen, almost three-in-four consumers say that they’re hesitant to resume regular activities outside the home. They are concerned about going to a hair salon, gym, or restaurant, but are especially worried about shared environments, such as the office, public transportation, ride sharing, air travel, and, generally, being in crowded spaces. 

Amid the disruption, consumer behavior may never return to the old “normal,” even after COVID-19 abates or conquered. Americans will continue to spend more time at home, seeking safety. The entire makeup of our life will be reshaped. For example, many people may reconsider staying in the area where they live and move to the countryside, resulting in the reversal of the urbanization trend.

These transformative changes require marketers to reconsider what they know about their changed customers, and just how they reach and engage them. Moving forward, an omnichannel marketing strategy is essential to survival. And, as telecommuting and the “crib economy” becomes more prevalent and prominent, thus reshaping where and how people live, work, and shop, the cascading impact will necessitate new approaches toward reaching consumers. Brands must be agile, innovative, and ready to experiment in what will become a constantly evolving new, marketing landscape.

This article was written by Avi Dan from Forbes and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

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