One positive of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the availability of the internet and everything digital. Thanks to the progressiveness of the digital age Coronavirus has not been able to completely take over our lives. Although greatly affecting the world as we know it, we have still been able to hold on to a sense of normal life through digital. We have turned to e-commerce to buy our groceries and the internet for our meetings. We are still able to keep in contact with our loved ones through video chat services like zoom and facetime. Even those apprehensive about the digital era have learned to appreciate the convenience it has provided during this pandemic. 

There has been a lot of talk about how long it will take for things to go back to normal. However, what most of us fail to realise is that things will never completely return to normal. Instead we are stepping into a ‘new normal’. We have been forced to adapt to a remote form of living, working and being. Due to this we have embraced the convenience of technology and the internet. Now that we have witnessed this new form of living our version of normal will change for the better. The Internet and technology will be more important than ever.

How do you position your brand during COVID-19?

1. How can I build brand loyalty advertising and a steady stream of customers? 

  • Advertising your brand and assisting the community during this pandemic will greatly affect your customer relationship for the better. Another way to stay relevant is by offering your customers tips on how your products will make this time easier for them. It is important to establish your brand as a trusted information source.

2. How can my brand connect with how people are feeling and experiencing COVID-19? 

  • Ensure your advertisements reflect the current climate. Instead of promoting togetherness with examples of large gatherings, promote togetherness from a distance using social media. Host google live events, or public webinars via zoom. Facebook suggests providing an alternative customer experience (online vs. offline, home delivery vs. dine-in, in-store pickup)

As marketers it is important to analyse how the population spends their time online during this pandemic. Understanding how our customers use social media and navigate the online sphere is crucial to creating relevant advertising. A study by Nielsen on how consumers use online sources to find information and recommendations offers some interesting statistics.

35% of consumers are reading, watching, commenting, or posting about products daily and 59% at least once a week. 

People are consuming more social media than ever and the breakdown is:

The majority of people spend their time online and fall into the categories below:

43% of consumers are looking for an interesting read

35% are searching for information/recommendations

33% are just staying connected

It is important to target customers with relevant content and advertising that will reflect their needs. With more customers than ever actively engaging online the relevance of advertising is more important than ever.

So, how should brands and marketers prepare for the ‘new normal’?

To get an idea how practices will change post Coronavirus one must first understand how current practices began. Australia noticed a 45% growth in total weekly e-commerce sales. Retailers were forced to upgrade their customer service and ensure the quality of their products. As we all welcomed the safety and convenience technology provided during the lockdown restrictions we adapted our lifestyles. Now as the situation begins to change for the better it is critical for brands to assist the change back to run as smoothly as possible. Instead of directing all traffic to stores brands should continue to advertise the convenience of online shopping especially for those at risk. A recent Neilsen survey discovered that four in 10 global online consumers said they were already using online shopping subscriptions, and a further 36% said they were willing to do so in the next two years.

It is clear that Australia has adapted to the convenience of the internet and they are going to continue these new practices beyond Coronavirus. It is therefore imperative that digital marketing and advertising accommodates this. Technology is the reason we have been able to maintain relatively normal lives during this pandemic and it is clear it will continue to be instrumental in our day to day lives. 

Next Level Advice:

  • Stay transparent! Which will intern, build trust and increase your customer relationship.
  • Produce creative and relevant advertising.
  • Analyse the cultural climate. See how people are adapting their lifestyles.
  • Do not disregard online advertising and marketing post COVID-19.
  • Embrace the new normal!

How can retailers adapt and change.

Now and beyond COVID-19

The Coronavirus has affected all Australians and the economy; self-isolating, social distancing, avoidance of public places, is having a negative impact on the bricks and mortar retail market as we know it. However when there is a risk there is an opportunity.

Take a look at the Google Data that shows the disruptive shift is occurring in the retail sector. 

Now is the best real time opportunity to manage the scale of your online and delivery response. Adjusting to the disruption and vastly different needs for consumers for this year. People are adjusting to an entirely new way of life, isolating, working, connecting with others and shopping with different intent and with different ways. As a Google Marketing partner we are keeping up to date with all the Google data and support available to our clients. At a high level we are seeing five main behaviours play out across Australia: 

As an online marketing agency we know that online shopping is important with the current change in the market more people have moved to spend online. This can help revive businesses whose bricks and mortar sales plummeted due to the pandemic. The evidence speaks for itself (according to Google Trends, Kantar and GWI

  • 56% of Australians have decreased shopping at physical outlets (compared to the previous month).
  • 81% of Aussies are now shopping online.
  • 30% are claiming to spend more time shopping online since the covid-19 outbreak.
  • 32% claim they will increase their online purchasing in the future.
  • 11% say they will be shopping online more once the outbreak is over.

We have seen spend and availability of supermarket delivery impact online shopping behaviours in a major way. “Home delivery” has gained interest in a big way since March, just like with “Online shopping”.

As you will have noticed in the news the increase in panic buying and hoarding, think toilet paper, hand sanitisers,facemasks etc. Whilst 89% of Australians think that hoarders of food and essentials need to stop, a large portion are hoarding themselves. 43% of Australians have more supplies than usual. 

According to Neilsen Australians are now in Stage 4 of the consumer cycle. The most notable growth is +45% Online Shopping in FMCG. Stocks of hand sanitisers, medical face masks and toilet paper are the most in demand in stores, with no clear indication of when supplies and demand will return to normal.

There are a number of examples of brands that benefit by maintaining their ad budgets during economic downturns. The least affected businesses are those that have been online. The data and insights indicates that providing the right kind of value at the right time can be a major growth period for some businesses such as when Amazon grew by 28% in 2009 during the recession.

Of course no one can predict the future but you can understand the drivers and precedence for where we are going next and setup to launch out of this lockdown into stage 6 when it comes. Your natural inclination to cut back on advertising during a recession should not be driven by emotion it should be driven by facts and data. As you can see in the examples from Bench those brands that maintain their ad budget and/or change their messaging can see a long-lasting boost in sales and market share.

Next Level Advice

Whilst it can be overwhelming for retailers to constantly keep up to date with the ever changing consumer demand. We know that brands who stay the closest to their customers find it easier to bring in the most value for their new needs. As well as provide the much needed services in high demand during this period. Those brands who know both their market and their customers will be ahead of their competition and cater directly to their customers. Therefore they have the most to gain, now and in the future.

Source: GWI, Global study from GlobalWebIndex across multiple markets, Date: March 31-April 2

Source: KANTAR, Kantar Global Barometer Wave 2 Report, Date: March 27-March 31

Source: Google Trends, KANTAR, Kantar Global Barometer Wave 2 Report, Date: March 27-March 31

Consumer Behaviour is changing – Search

COVID-19 is changing the landscape for all of us. While the challenges of each business are unique, we are all being impacted in some way. Google recently announced a (USD)$800+ million commitment to support COVID-19 response efforts. This commitment includes Google Ads credits and more ad grants for government, health and relief organisations.

Social movement towards isolation presents new reality and may have ongoing effects throughout the year. 45% of Australians believe they would stay safe with precautions and good hygiene (however those aged between 45 – 54 are most concerned). 

Australians have ranked the top most important things to them right now are

  • 70% My family’s health and wellbeing
  • 43% My long-term financial security
  • 41% My mental wellbeing

We recognise that this is a rapidly changing event. There have been big shifts in consumer attitudes towards the coronavirus situation in the 2 weeks prior to 23 March 2020, in line with the rapidly changing situation and increased restrictions.

Product affordability, safety and availability are most important to Australians. Amid widespread health concerns, federal travel restrictions and local movement limitations, the economy is facing the greatest, and fastest change in consumer behavior. The most notable changes to consumer behaviour have impacted the financial, health and retail industries.

Changes in Search behaviour

There is no doubt that Search behaviour is changing, the interesting thing is how. In Australia overall shopping has held up well, mostly due to groceries and pharmacy needs. Consumers are diverting discretionary spending stocking up and temporarily reducing spending on non essential goods. People are also fearful of financial impacts further limiting their discretionary spend.

Google trend data below shows the trend lines for key search terms important to Australians during the Corona Virus pandemic. We would know these key needs well – face-masks, hand sanitiser, toilet paper and hand wash.

Talking with our Google partners we have seen some interesting statistics on search trends within Australia (2 weeks from 8th March 2020) the most notable being year on year growth for: 

  • +239% FMCG – Household Supplies
  • +124% Finance – Investing, Loans and Shares
  • +123% Online Food Shopping & Delivery
  • +94% Cosmetics & Beauty Products
  • +74 Hygiene & Toiletries
  • +61 Medical Equipment 
  • +54% Health Conditions 
  • +25% Shopping Portals & Search Engines

Undeniably this pandemic is changing the way consumers think, feel and act, in all aspects of their lives and across industries. This situation is rapidly evolving and it is increasing the amount of digital media bringing BVOD ratings through the roof as well as media consumption on social media as well as online enquiries. 

If you would like to find out more about what we are seeing in these times or would like to start a conversation about how you can make the most of these potential opportunities to provide value for people. Get in touch with us to set up an online chat.

From Kantar Australia: AU_COVD-19_Infographic_VD.pdf by Kantar, March 2020. Based on online survey of 500 Australian consumers between the ages of 18 and 90.

From The Lab & Nature: COVID-19 BRAND NAVIGATOR Real-time insights into the rapidly evolving landscape. 2 April 2020.

From Google vertical trend data – first 2 wks in March 2020.