The spread of COVID-19, a/k/a novel coronavirus, recklessly pushed many brand’s campaigns into postponement or cancellation. On the other hand, several countries like China, the U.S., and others that had horrible damage already try to resume their economy gradually. Of course, such a situation depends on each region. What we can say for sure is that this pandemic has changed our mindset and lifestyle very significantly. Based on these facts, how should the marketer behave in a post-novel coronavirus era?
Nobody can predict our future
Many people want to know when we will be able to go back to normal. But, as a matter of course, nobody can predict the future precisely. Some experts say it will take at least a year or more until someone can create the drug and vaccine for COVID-19. If you think about it logically, it will take more until everybody can receive them. According to Harvard scientists, we might have to keep social distancing until 2022. Even if this pandemic ends, on top of it we might have a threat of other viruses in the near future. Unfortunately, no one can deny such a risk.
Maybe we should not regard this pandemic as something irregular or special. Fortunately, many people around the world had been living peacefully since World War II, but we were just lucky. Considering that, I would say the spirit of not “After” but “With Coronavirus” is crucial for us.
I strongly think that we should throw optimistic perspectives away soon. That reminds me of a well-known episode on “…trotzdem Ja zum Leben sagen: Ein Psychologe erlebt das Konzentrationslager (Man’s Search for Meaning)” written by Viktor Frankl. People who were stuck in a Nazi concentration camp were hoping that they could escape from the adversity at hand by Christmas day. However, nobody could be liberated by Christmas, and then almost all people passed away along with massive tragedy. On the other hand, the survivor never gave up without sticking to the day. The marketer must survive by all means as only a few people could survive from the Nazi concentration camp.
Who can get opportunities from this tough time?
Some specific industries have been expanding their business greatly thanks to this pandemic. For example, e-learning, e-commerce, delivery service companies, and so on. Many people have the spare time to take advantage of these services because they can’t go out during the pandemic. Some legacy industries are no exception. I heard that the automatic door factories in China were busy because they received hundreds of thousands of orders and inquiries recently. I can understand that no one who went through this crisis wants to touch any doorknob at all.
The tourism industry had devastating damage due to this coronavirus crisis. I guess it will take a long time until the situation goes back to normal. Even if the state goes back to normal, it might look different from before as Brian Chesky, Co-Founder and CEO of Airbnb, pointed it out. On the other hand, I guess they will have a special demand sooner or later. In particular, foreign travel and international conferences will be needed by many people. The travel industry in the U.S. has recovered faster than other sectors after WW2. In my opinion, human beings are emotional creatures. We can’t be satisfied with something virtual.
If you don’t have a special demand, what should you do as a marketer? I would say you have to change your strategy and even the business model according to this tough situation. If you can’t do that, you will have a hard predicament you have never experienced.
How should the marketer survive this crisis?
Simply put, the world has changed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. It means that we need to rethink the existing strategy and business models from scratch, as I mentioned above.
I work in the influencer marketing industry. Many brands decided to postpone or cancel their campaigns because the influencer’s post looks tone-deaf during the pandemic. As a result, some employees in the brand started posting something on their social media accounts on behalf of glamorous influencers. I guess many brands will take advantage of their employees as influencers more and more. For example, Intime Retail (Chinese Department Store) and Marc Jacobs (American Fashion Brand) already started utilizing their employees as brand influencers. Some sent out information from home, and as a result of that, it seems that the company made a sale through these employee influencers.
After looking at these situations, I came up with a giant’s wisdom. According to Charles Darwin, English naturalist, geologist, and biologist,
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
The excellent marketer must be adaptable to change.