How has COVID-19 changed marketing strategy of brands?

Marketing is a dynamic part of a business. A good marketing strategy helps to bring life into a brand. Every year we witness marketing trends with exceptional results. Marketing professionals try their best to be part of these trends. However, 2020 had set a different tone for the businesses nationwide. The news of the COVID-19 pandemic came as a great shock to everyone. Many growing brands took a backseat due to the COVID-19 pandemic. By the end of the first three months of 2020, the world had come to a standstill. 

The announcement of pandemic and nationwide lockdowns instilled a sense of panic in the minds of consumers. Their focus shifted to essential and necessities from luxury goods. Many businesses saw this pandemic as an opportunity and made some significant changes to their business models. They redesigned their business strategies as a response to the Covid-19 crisis. Marketing plans and campaigns acted as a catalyst to push these business models in the market.

Even though the pandemic made things take a 180-degree turn, the marketing campaigns never stopped. Marketers started making short term marketing plans rather than long term plans. The pandemic ate into the marketing budget, but the marketing campaigns were well designed and impactful. The brands started rolling out the campaigns with a human touch via their social media platforms. The shift from traditional marketing to online marketing had become the need of the hour for the brands during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Marketing before Pandemic:

  • Before the pandemic, the marketing campaigns were more data driven. These campaigns had shown great results and conversion rates in the past. However, a sudden change in consumer behavior made brands realize the lack of human emotions in their campaigns. The pandemic has had been difficult for all of us. Many brands changed their brand message and brand communication. They changed their brand communication from being data-driven and result oriented to being sensitive towards consumer’s emotions.
  • Television and Newspapers are the primary sources of marketing campaigns in India. Before the pandemic, brands invested heavily to advertise their products and services in these mediums. However, at the beginning of the pandemic, the circulation of newspapers was stopped. The avid newspaper readers shifted to news channels for the COVID-19 updates. There was intense competition amongst brands to run advertisements on these channels. These channels ran advertisements for products such as sanitizers, insurance policies and immunity booster tablets.
  • Many brands regardless of their business scale had inactive social media platforms. These brands did not have any professional knowledge or professionals who handled these platforms. Many business owners took this lockdown as an opportunity to learn all about online marketing and took their businesses online. They started building their business online by creating an e-commerce website and by running ads on Facebook and Instagram. Many brands sought out help from professionals which they as a brand would not have done before COVID 19 pandemic. 

Marketing Strategies During lockdown:

  • The concept of influencer marketing has picked up in the pandemic. During the lockdown, people started spending more time than usual on social media platforms. Brands started collaborating with social media influencers to promote their products. Also, these promotions were light on the pocket as compared to television commercials in tough times. With using features such as Instagram Shopping and website integration, the brands saw a high conversion rate. Even the individuals aged above 40 started using YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook more than before. 
  • With the changes happening worldwide, even the online platforms and media underwent some crucial changes in 2020. In June, one of the most trending social platforms, Tiktok was banned in India. However, in August Instagram introduced ‘Instagram Reels’. The reels are short entering videos of 15 seconds on Instagram. The reels are considered as a powerful medium to leave an impression on the consumer’s mind. Louis Vuitton was one of the first brands to use a reel for making a transition video. This reel had gone viral and has gained views in millions.
  • Moment marketing campaigns saw growth during the pandemic. Today, the brands have started designing campaigns based on live trends. Everyone believes in going viral. Thus, the brands do not adhere to a strict marketing calendar or a plan. Brands hop on the new online marketing trends to reach their current as well as the new audiences. These campaigns are short-lived. However, they can grant great conversion results to the brands if they are impactful.
  • With the television industry coming to a halt, the viewers shifted to OTT platforms. The OTT platforms such as Amazon Prime, Hotstar and Netflix enjoyed tremendous growth in their downloads. Brands saw this major shift of consumers as a new marketing opportunity Brands started advertising their products on these OTT platforms. Apart from OTT platforms, even YouTube attracted viewers of all ages. Brands started approaching prominent YouTubers for collaborations. 
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has instilled fear in the mind of consumes till today. Health sector companies started investing their sources in marketing more than ever. Insurance companies saw the initial days of the pandemic as an opportunity to market their policies. They rolled out campaigns to make people realise the importance of insurance policies. Insurance companies enjoyed great results from these marketing campaigns. 
  • Slowly and steadily, both brands and consumers had adjusted themselves to the new changes. Brands had set a new tone for their marketing campaigns by December 2020. Marketing professionals believed that the COVID-19 pandemic helped them to build a stronger bond with the audience. Today, the consumers are quite comfortable watching the advertisements on the small screens rather than on the big screen!

Content Credit -
Sayli Patil

Editor -
Nishikant Patil

Graphics Credit -
Deepanshi Malik

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