To say that the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is set to fundamentally change the way we live and work over the coming months is an understatement. In a time of social distancing and isolation, people are not only anxious about their future—they’re bored and craving connection.
People will always find a way, whether it’s through virtual happy hours or entire neighborhoods singing from their windows and balconies in solidarity. But brands, having invested incredible effort and budgets into developing their strategies for 2020, aren’t so quick to pivot.
We’ve seen this increasingly over the past decade with their digital transformation journeys, which have (mostly) been slow and incremental. However, there is no time for slow and incremental amid the current climate. To quote Michel De Rijk, APAC chief executive of S4Capital, "In times like this, it’s more about speed than accuracy."
The world may have come to a near standstill, but consumers require more support than ever. To continue serving them, brands must embrace customer obsession to build relationships and deliver impactful experiences when and where they matter most in the customer decision journey—a journey that’s become entirely digital.
Reassess your strategy to reach digital audiences
Brands can take inspiration from existing plans and strategies, but they’ll need to pivot in a way that makes sense. If the channels you’d invested effort in were no longer viable (such as out of home or in-person experiential, in this case), the worst thing you can do is just try to haphazardly replicate that activity online. It doesn’t work like that. Online and offline work together and have different roles to play in the consumer journey, they’re same-same, but different.
You don’t necessarily have to go back to the drawing board and start from scratch, but focus on what it is your brand was hoping to achieve with the previous activity and find a way to achieve that digitally. It’s also worth noting that the psychographic profiles of your consumers, in which those plans existed for, have also changed––so make sure that you’re obsessing over your customers (mindsets and situation) first and foremost, not thinking about how your marketing plans have been disrupted and how much of a pain that is.
An example from China that’s pretty cool is a gym called Super Orangutan which has begun offering livestreams on Kuaishou, garnering over 10 million views. With fitness club members unable to leave their homes to make use of the gym’s equipment, its trainers saw an opportunity to connect with them in a different way by offering live courses that users could participate in at home without equipment.
Enable flexibility to meet new needs
In the example above, the gym was no longer just a place to go. It became a true community, offering the opportunity to connect to keep one another active in an unprecedented time of idleness. A perfect example of rethinking things with the real-world toolkit they’ve been presented with, and how they now fit within consumers’ lives.
Flexibility is critical in making such an evolution—something we’ve seen our clients manage both locally and around the world. At MediaMonks, we operate as one team around the globe, and are used to working across timezones and markets with each of the projects that we tackle. When China went into lockdown with our local team spread across more than a dozen locations after their CNY breaks, they adapted quickly to the new normal of telecommuting without missing a beat.
This flexible, agile mindset will prove to be critical for brands that seek to become customer obsessed within this challenging moment. But we’re all in this together, and there’s something beautiful in that we’ve collectively joined forces to overcome a shared challenge. So a sense of connection really does persist today—and through a better understanding of consumer needs and a willingness to empathize, brands can better assist their audiences both now and well into the future.
Tobias Wilson is Asia Pacific VP of Growth at MediaMonks