Full disclosure — Yes, this is another CORONA themed article. No, we will not be talking about ourselves and what we’re doing (like every other company is) because that has no value to you. Right now is an extremely challenging time for businesses, and we want to support you. We don’t profess to have all the answers in this uncertain time, but we do know that we’re all in this together. We understand that we are in a privileged position because our staff can work remotely. We hope to use this strength to help those businesses who are struggling.
Whether you’re newly navigating the realities of working from home or maybe you’ve had to shut down altogether because of social distancing, there are many business challenges ahead. We’re hearing the same kinds of questions from our clients about their communications. How do we stay in touch with our customers? How can we continue to trade? How will we get through this?
It’s clear to all of us that the effects of COVID are reaching further than just our physical health. But out of crisis comes opportunity, and how you react now will affect how your business continues into the future.
Adversity in the face of uncertainty
It’s very easy to get sucked into the pandemic panic, but we’re trying to take a step back from that at Orb and what we recommend primarily is a change of mindset. Just as vitamin C will strengthen your body’s immune system, consider this a moment in your business, a time to make your brand foundations stronger so you can face whatever challenge COVID or otherwise the world throws at you. We are, all of us, blessed with an entrepreneurial spirit, so it’s time to flex that creative muscle and see what we can do together in this situation.
A time for reflection
How has your business been performing? How do people perceive your brand? This downtime and a new mindset is an excellent opportunity to consider the foundations of your business. Over time, what you do and how you deliver it evolves, and your brand strategy and visual identity should reflect those changes. Now is a great time to start looking at your business data and making those decisions. Consider your web traffic trends, social engagement successes and sales funnel flops but make sure you exclude these current uncertain months. Does your original business mission still stand, or do your brand values feel dated? Take some time to look under the hood of your business as your usual projects slow down. Before you start developing new strategies, you should always seek to learn from your old ones through data and evaluation. This iterative, test, learn and evaluate process is central to our approach at Orb and it’s what helps us continue to help drive client results.
Customer behaviour changes
Understanding your customer is your top priority. Business decisions must consider their behaviour. So, let’s explore how people are reacting to the pandemic.
- Cleanliness — Hand and home sanitation has become a standard government communication.
- Social Distancing — People are limiting/stopping physical and non-essential social contact
- Events and air travel cancelled — People are being left disappointed after events and holidays are cancelled and are having to remain at home.
- Lockdown — Public space and workspaces are closed, meaning people are working from home or having to take time off.
Essentially, people are being forced to withdraw from social situations and remain at home with a lot more free time. We must consider that they may live with family or friends and that they will likely feel some level of anxiety and stress in their isolation.
Customer trends and learnings from China *
We can already see trends in customer behaviour in China, and though these patterns may not be identical, we expect the rest of the world to take a similar direction.
- Delivery services — The demand for delivery of groceries, food and other items will rise exponentially. In Meituan, one of the biggest food delivery companies in China is receiving four times the number of orders it got during the same period last year.
- Digital connection — People will log on and stay connected through digital apps and social media. Joy was found on TIK TOK with stay at home club nights and remote DJ sets.
- Customers are expected to purchase more food, beverages and health products while they self isolate, including the already ever-present panic buying.
- Purchases of cleaning products will rise, and people will spend more of their time cleaning their homes to avoid contamination, and because they are spending more time there.
- Media Streaming — Sites like Netflix will undoubtedly see a rise in logins and hours spent streaming as people try to fill their free time.
- Apparel, beauty products, offline activities, and sportswear may take a drop in sales for the foreseeable future as it has done in China.
- Physical exercise and wellbeing practices at home will become in demand as people look to keep up routines and combat anxiety and stress.
- Humour as a coping mechanism — As a response to the worry of the pandemic, people will look for humour. Corona-centric memes and laughter worthy content will likely become a digital tonic.
Smart things brands can be doing
Don’t panic; there are lots of things you can be doing right now that can help retain customer connections during Corona lockdown and in the long term for the sustainability of your brand. This situation is only temporary, we will get back to a new normality, and so your focus turns next to protecting the future of your business, ensuring everyone has something special to come back for.
- Help people pass the time through services, content and challenges.
- Get online — Whatever you can make virtual — do it.
- Random acts of kindness and support — Lush invited everybody to come into the store and wash their hands (though this only works for a short time it’s a kind act).
- Keep people smiling — We are all going to need a bit of joy and happiness in our lives as we go through this and not everything has to be about COVID.
- Don’t try to make a profit from COVID. Brands who are seen to take the opportunity to make a direct profit from the pandemic (not just helping people out) are getting trolled to hell and back on social media.
The key takeaways are that yes, business will be affected; however, we can stay connected to our consumers by being empathetic and offering solutions to help people cope with the situation.
So dig deep, and we wish you all the best from the whole Orb team. It is now more than ever that we notice our brilliant Birmingham business community, and it’s great to see that people are pulling together to support those who are struggling. Most importantly, stay safe and protect those who are vulnerable.
If you’d like a more personalised consultation, please get in contact as we are offering free COVID brand advice to local businesses currently struggling. After all, #WeAreInThisTogether
*SOURCE — IPSOS PDF HOW CAN BRANDS RESPOND TO THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS