Marketing Trends in a Post-Pandemic World
Covid has been an era-defining event, like past plagues, wars and natural disasters. And like other such events, it follows a predictive pattern, notes Kristina Roberts, Global Consumer Leader at Ernst & Young (EY), a global accounting firm.
First, there is the event itself, a shock that has to be survived, writes Roberts. Then, there is the crisis period. (Think the last few years of Covid). And finally, when the crisis abates, there is a rebound. That rebound is a “new normal” that now incorporates lessons learned from the event and a “normal” that is different than its predecessor era.
Where We Are Now
We’re entering the third phase, according to Roberts. And consumer priorities have changed, notes EY’s eighth Future Consumer Index. Those changes are in three key areas.
- Risk and threat are part of life’s concerns
- People want quality—in their products, the buying experience, and their time
- Life’s default buying pattern is digital.
The above consumer concerns hint at ways practices can respond to the new normal with their marketing efforts.
How to Shape Your New (Marketing) Normal
“During the months of lockdown and self-isolation, we have been…writing a new future,” notes Arin Arora, et al., at McKinsey & Company (“McKinsey”), a global management consulting firm. And that “new future” looks nothing like the old one when it comes to consumer expectations and buying patterns.
Below, paraphrased and translated to actionable steps for practice owners and managers, are some of the trends Arora and his colleagues at McKinsey forecasted.
Trend: E-services to help consumers take care of business will continue.
Consumers have gotten used to doing business without leaving the couch. That said, telemedicine will continue, as will other uses of technology to streamline client interactions. That may include online product ordering and online appointment setting.
Throughout these digital interactions, consumers will expect the same kind of quality they get when they visit your practice. That will demand that you work out the bugs and educate your team to ensure an easy, streamlined digital experience.
Trend: Home is the new “command central.”
Online gaming and video streaming grew exponentially during the pandemic. That translates to consumer expectations. To meet these expectations, review your digital customer experiences to see if they are enjoyable.
For instance, can you “game” experiences, such as with scoring and leaderboards? Can you create digital interactions that are two-way instead of one-way? Do interactions work cross-platform, that is, on a phone, an iPad and a computer?
Trend: Local communities are invaluable; relationships are key.
One thing we all learned during the pandemic is that our neighbors helped us survive the social isolation. And while many practices pre-pandemic had a community service aspect, the new normal, and its consumer, expects this now.
So as you review your community service, or consider initiating a program, think about ways your practice can bring together your customer community. This serves two purposes: your relationship with customers, but also their relationships with each other.
Trend: Trust is BIG.
The brands that survived the pandemic did so because consumers trusted them, with their health and their dollars. Those brands also understood the importance of being there for their customers. It wasn’t about sales. It was about support during a difficult time.
That need to trust those we do business with remains. You can show your customers that you honor their trust with regular cleanings, distancing and masking. It can also mean responding to customer concerns related to their financial situations.
Trend: Consumers have high standards for those they do business with.
Given world events and climate anxiety, consumers are increasingly demanding to know what values drive the companies they do business with. This includes environmental activities and behaviors. It also includes wanting to know what social causes they support.
This is an opportunity to review your practice’s values and edit them for the new normal. Does your practice recycle? If not, perhaps it’s time to. Is there a local cause you stand behind but which you’ve not showcased on your website? Now is the time to do that.