No one was prepared for what 2020 would bring. Aside from the way it affected people’s personal lives, it greatly altered the way businesses conducted themselves, as well.
Throughout the pandemic, many business sectors experienced economic decline. After facing multiple lockdowns and re-openings, businesses were put through the wringer. Thus, business owners were forced to think on their feet to respond to changing environments and ensure their business would not fail. As a result, they altered their advertising strategies to adapt to changing consumer behaviour to better reach their customers.
Shift In Audience
Many businesses saw an increase in new customers from within their own local communities that may not have shopped with them previously. This is partly due to travel bans that forced people to stay at home. Shoppers were encouraged to ‘stay local’ and be conscientious of how far they would travel to get essential supplies. As a result, businesses began increasing advertising in local areas, such as at shop centres, train stations, and on local billboards.
Shift In Budget
When a crisis hits, the first instinct is to pause spending. Although this is not a best practice, it’s true that some businesses did cut their marketing budgets. As a result, advertisements had to be highly targeted to ensure effectiveness. Businesses that continued to advertise were able to set themselves apart from their competitors and boost their business’ reputation as a credible company that had the means to continue marketing during uncertain times.
Shift In Consumer Behaviour
The mindset and daily habits of customers quickly shifted because of the pandemic. Businesses were forced to quickly react to these changes in order to reach new customers.
The daily patterns of customers shifted in a myriad of ways. Rather than impulse buying, they purchased mostly essential items. They spent far less time outdoors, and instead, only went outside to run errands, exercise, or get a bit of fresh air. Customers began supporting more small businesses, especially local ones, who were struggling to stay afloat. They also began making much more online purchases, since most storefronts were closed.
As a result of the changing behaviours of customers, the mindset of business owners changed, too. They had to adapt their business plans to meet the needs of customers. Businesses that offered non-essential items began selling masks and hand sanitisers, too. For example, alcohol distilleries shifted to selling hand sanitisers made from their liquor. They also created and/or implemented mobile apps and online tools to help run their business. One example of this is restaurants utilising QR codes, so customers could order food right from their table to minimise the risk of spreading the virus. Other businesses developed online shopping tools and delivery services to reach customers who didn’t leave their homes often.
Shift In Messaging
At the beginning of the pandemic, many businesses shut off their regularly scheduled advertisements that might be considered tone deaf during such a serious time. Instead, businesses began created brand new ads with new messaging.
- Local Messaging – Some businesses chose a highly catered message that was understandable and relatable to local audiences, rather than mass audiences made up of tourists and visitors.
- Pandemic-Related – Some businesses utilised the topic of the pandemic in their advertising, whether it be sharing Zoom puns, showing appreciation to key workers, etc.
- Humour – Other businesses utilised humour to add some good-natured fun to people’s lives during such a trying time.
- Storytelling – Due to the inability to regularly socialise with people, advertisers incorporated storytelling into their ads by showcasing people’s COVID experiences or sharing feel-good stories of communities coming together during lockdowns.
- Promotions – Other businesses were aware that people were strapped for cash. Thus, they offered discounts and promotions to attract people willing to bag a bargain.
Overall, the businesses that were quick to reorganise their business model are the same businesses that achieved great success during the pandemic. This demonstrates how essential it is to understand your customers and their ever-changing needs, especially in advertising. Advertising works regardless of the current economic landscape, but sometimes it takes a bit of change in order to grow.