Marketers don’t have an easy job at the moment. Since COVID-19’s eruption, marketing operations went from business as usual to crisis management in the blink of an eye, forcing strategists and managers to ask themselves big questions and make difficult decisions. With the initial focus on crisis management dissipating, marketers must now adapt to a new reality, however temporary it may be, and start planning next steps while attempting to minimize short-term risk.
We are all up against the same challenges. Looking for inspiration in our peers’ real-life experiences and innovations can sometimes help us find part of a solution, or at least, put a few ideas on the back-burner for later. It’s this mode of thinking that motivated us to launch our “marketers’ diary”, a living article dedicated to keeping a vigil on our industry while this crisis unfolds.
This article will be treated as a “war diary” of sorts – a streamlined overview of the COVID-19 crisis from marketers’ perspectives, updated regularly throughout the coming weeks. Our research will be presented in the form of highlighted facts, press reviews, and a curated list of the best-of in our industry. Content creation during COVID-19 is moving at lightning speed – we are therefore taking it upon ourselves to search, sort, analyze, and synthesize.
Here are the three main content pillars of this diary :
We especially want to look ahead and focus on our projections of the aftermath of it all, and on agencies’ responsibility in accelerating businesses’ digital transformation. With the help of this diary, we aim to equip peers passionate about marketing, anxious about the future of their industry, or quite simply, those curious about what is happening on the Web. May it accompany you through these tumultuous times and guide you in the preparation of your digital future.
News from April 23
April 16 News
(Global Web Index, April 2020)
April 8 News
News from 2 avril
Observations on audience behavior – Moving towards a recession psychology, where expectations will make way to groups of population motivated by psychological aspects more so than purchasing behaviors. 4 groups are identified :
The worst is yet to come – The effects of the virus will be felt for months to come, and the peak is at our door, according to a survey conducted by Boston Consulting Group. In the United States, over 70% of respondents claimed that the worst of COVID-19 is not finished and that an economic recession is inevitable. Income will therefore be spent differently, with less emphasis on products and more on savings, despite that potential revenue loss may lead to savings taking a hit. (Boston Consulting Group, March 23, 2020)
September, the beginning of the end? – Canadians anticipate that COVID-19 will no longer be a major problem by September, an attitude of the virus’ longevity that is a little more conservative than the global average estimate of August. It’s important to note that this estimate parallels the virus’ progression, and that the average answer was July a mere 3 weeks ago…(IMI, March 30, 2020)
Grocery shopping done differently – An inescapable behavioral change during the crisis will have definitely been the impressive explosion of online grocery shopping. Thanks to social distancing recommendations and generalized anxiety, sales of food products online have gone from 1.5% to 9% in Canada since the beginning of the virus spread. Now highlighted are the logistic and technological issues of online ordering systems, as well as the need to continue convincing consumers that this is an efficient way to shop once the crisis is over. (L’actualité Alimentaire, March 25, 2020, source in French)
A larger playing field in the food industry – Has this crisis shown the limits of globalisation and neoliberal free-market? Maybe not in its entirety, but at least on this essential front – that Ricardo’s comparative advantage? One of the main weaknesses showcased by the virus has been to highlight many countries’ extreme dependence in terms of product and material supplies (masks, screening tests, hydroalcoholic gels, but also some products of mass distribution). Will this lead us to question this foundational free-market principle and lead to reattribution processes of certain industrial activities? (Marianne, March 23, 2020 et Le Figaro, March 30, 2020, sources in French)
Small businesses are in peril – Unsurprisingly, independent businesses are taking a hit at the moment. 55% of small businesses are completely or partially closed, and revenues are dropping significantly. Even more alarming, a third of businesses claim they will not be able to survive more than a month under these conditions. We can speculate that these companies do not currently have an e-commerce in place, and are therefore shackled to governmental regulations. (Canadian Federation of Independent Business, March 23, 2020)
“The emperor has no clothes”, or the need to reclaim initiative – Who decides which actions to take on the digital front, in the middle of a storm? This tongue in cheek image reflects an all-too-common reality, which shows that many brands and businesses have lost their sense of initiative and operate reactively rather than proactively. (Discord, March 30, 2020)
Crisis management kit for brands and businesses – Practical and straight to the point, this guide helps you decipher how to be helpful to your customers and emerge strong. In a nutshell, stay calm, approachable, fight the urge to have an opinion on everything, and find ways to make your brand relevant through its expertise. (BBH London, March 24, 2020)
Context, context, context – Regardless of the status of your marketing assets, the question surrounding context when managing current campaigns and of the data captured in the next weeks and months will be a priority and need to be inserted in all performance analysis. The disruption of the status quo in marketing also represents an opportunity to speak to our users differently through digital channels, and assess how our brand and customer experience are faring. (Think With Google, March 29, 2020 et Strategy, March 18, 2020)