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BizReport : Advertising : September 30, 2020

Top 3 things consumers now want from marketers

Many things have changed for marketers since the beginning of the pandemic, but even more has changed for consumers. From the way they shop to how they commute to work to how they engage with friends and family. Which means a switch in strategy for many marketers is in order. Here are three ways brands can adjust their strategy to meet consumers where they live.

by Kristina Knight

Kristina: How has marketing changed since the COVID pandemic forced businesses to close and people to stay home?

Diaz Nesamoney, CEO, Jivox: Marketers can no longer rely on in-store sales and promotions due to stay-at-home orders. As a result, many brands are turning to a digital-first strategy to compete for consumer's attention and deliver the right message at the right time.

During the lockdown this spring, consumers had spent most of their time online from basic needs to entertainment. These included people who shopped online for the very first time. This is why brands that have online stores are reaping the benefits: from online grocery, consumer goods, restaurants with delivery or curbside pickup, to streaming media and interactive entertainment. This change, which could very well be permanent, really highlights the brands' important strategic shift to digital commerce, and to focus their budget on eCommerce marketing to drive sales.

Kristina: What is it that consumers want from advertising at this point - is personalization still a priority? Do they want communication through different channels? Do they want straight-up ads or a mix of comforting messaging and ad copy?

Diaz: Personalization is more important than ever. According to an Accenture survey, 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands who recognize their habits and provide relevant recommendations and offers. With physical store closings, consumers see the need even more for online personalized experiences that best replicate an in-store shopping experience. With 1:1 personalized marketing, brands can collect and use consented data to tailor the messaging to fit the consumers' need or want.

Over the past decade, many marketers have adopted an omnichannel approach, or the ability to reach a consumer across multiple channels, yet many are still missing the personalization aspect. The convergence of personalization and omnichannel are essential to creating an integrated customer experience for consumers across all channels at scale. Brands who leverage both will thrive now and post-pandemic.

With digital commerce, 1:1 personalization is critical as consumers will not engage with broad marketing messages as their needs are for specific products and services and the user experience has to zero in on the products and offers that are relevant to that specific consumer.

Kristina: Have merchants and brands done a good job of pivoting during this time? What do brands need to do, as we head into the Back to School and then the Holiday Shopping seasons, to engage?

Diaz: Some retailers have done an excellent job of shifting their strategy, while some are still lagging behind. Nike, for example, saw their digital sales increase significantly during the pandemic because they prioritized a digital-first strategy to better target its customers with the right message at the time of purchase intent. As a result, Nike has seen an incredible 36% increase in online sales.

Other brands are following suit, and many have announced just this week that they'll keep their doors closed on Thanksgiving Day -- one of the biggest shopping days of the year -- and shift their strategy to be digital-only.

The pandemic has dramatically changed the retail industry and it will never be the same. Brands have to adjust their digital strategy now to fit the new norm of how consumers are buying. Leveraging a digital-first, personalized approach will allow brands to remain competitive and continue attracting new customers.

Kristina: What ad strategies are most important at this point?

Diaz: Differential and contextual messaging have become critical. Brands need to tailor their messaging depending on which location and context their consumers are in. For example, in areas where COVID death rates are high, a message of empathy may be more appropriate, while in other areas that have recovered the normal advertising message may be okay. Consumers also are trying to understand how to purchase from the brand and so differential messaging allows the brand to communicate the mechanisms by which their products can be purchased (i.e. in-store, curbside only or delivery only, etc.) as well as services like free delivery.

Brands need to quickly adapt from the broad brand-building messaging to more tailored product-and purchase-specific messaging, especially messaging tied to online purchases. They must invest in technology that can deliver a personalized experience to consumers based on individual interests, moments and contexts. With this type of modern technology, brands can use AI and data to reach this type of personalization and thrive post-pandemic.

Kristina: What should brands do to begin adjusting existing strategies to fit what consumers now want?

Diaz: Brands should quickly adopt test and learn strategies while implementing 1:1 personalized advertising. These test and learn strategies can help brands fine-tune their messaging to ensure it is resonating well and that they are successfully engaging consumers to purchase online especially from consumers who have been used to purchasing in their physical stores. This requires a data-driven approach to marketing and the use of dynamic creative and personalization technologies as well as analytics and AI-assisted marketing platforms that automate the test and learn the process.

Tags: advertising, advertising after coronavirus, advertising tips, advertising trends, Jivox

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