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!

Coronavirus changed the world as we know it, we went from being able to buy what we want whenever we wanted, to making one trip a week to the shops and hoarding as much as we could. However, where there is change there is opportunity and brands in the FMCG industry now have opportunities to help their customers, now and beyond COVID-19.

So what can brands do right now?

The unique situation of Coronavirus has put us all in an awkward position, as customers we are in constant need to know what is going on with our food and groceries. Restrictions on shopping and shipping have greatly affected our lives, however, this offers brands the unique opportunity to build their relationship with their customers and gain trust. Brands can build trust by being transparent about their current situation and practicing messaging based on their customer behaviour.

Source: Google Agency Insights Forum #1 – YouTube COVID-19 Support Seminar

From our regular catch ups with Google, we have a diagram that helps explain customer behaviour, this diagram  ranks businesses by their necessity or opportunity to bring value during this pandemic.  Also providing some guidance on how each brand should act depending on where they rank on the scale.

Determining your position on this scale will impact your customer messaging. Being in the FMCG category you sit in a very interesting position according to Neilson Australia, grocery sales have increased by +45% in a few weeks.  Some basic foodstuffs recorded significant rises in sales in four weeks finishing on February 22 2020, these include; 

  • pasta (+76%)
  • eggs (+72%)
  • canned meals (+71%)
  • tea (+62%)
  • rice (+58%)
  • flour (+55%) 
  • shelf-stable milk (+50%)
 

FMCG brands are in luck right now with high demands on the majority of products but how can we predict how long this will last?

What can brands do to better prepare for the future?

Source: Nielsen ‘COVID-19: TRACKING THE IMPACT ON FMCG, RETAIL AND MEDIA’

Right now, Australia is still in threshold #5 restricted living. Although it may seem like this pandemic will never end, it will and it is important to be prepared for when the change comes. 

You can do this by predicting customer behaviour; China, Italy and Spain are slowly moving into threshold #6 living a new normal, so what does it mean for customer behaviour? During this global quarantine people have heavily relied on e-commerce, in Italy e-commerce levels were up by +158% compared to a year ago in the week ending April 5th. It is predicted that these levels will stay up. A Nielsen survey showed that 60% of people say they are eating more at home than prior to the pandemic. Due to this it is expected that consumers’ food and drink purchase items will be focused around healthy and long term pantry essentials.

So what does this all mean?

It is important to stay educated about the current global climate and analyse changes in other countries’ consumer behaviour as the situation evolves. Embrace your opportunities, customers are looking to brands for information on how they are operating during this crisis, this is your chance to build their trust. 

Google has provided us with some great statistics about current opportunities for those in the FMCG industry.

  • With 81% of Aussies shopping online, having a clear website that’s easy to navigate will gain you more customers.
  • 30% of Australians are spending more time shopping online since the COVID-19 outbreak. Therefore, it’s more important than ever to have good online advertising to drive leads to your site.

32% of Aussies will increase their online shopping in the future. It is important to keep your customers interested and coming back to you with good remarketing campaigns.

Source: Google Agency Insights Forum #3 – COVID-19 AUNZ

Our Advice

There is a new normal, consumers are expecting more from their brands not just in terms of products. We recommend being transparent with your customers, constantly update your websites and social media channels and be clear about your efforts to assist them during this crisis. This will help build your relationship with your consumers and establish trust. It is also imperative to keep up to date with the current climate and to look at the data around how other countries are reacting to the current pandemic. Looking at countries one step ahead of us and their buying habits can help us predict the next stage of normal here in Australia. 

Stay educated, stay relevant, stay transparent and you will earn a new level of trust in the eyes of your consumers.