Marketing is a dynamic field; one that has to adapt skilfully to the every new event shaping our world. As we find ourselves in the midst of a situation that is pretty much as extraordinary as imagination may go, the nuances that go into marketing a brand will have to alter promptly too.
Today’s consumer is fickle and the difference between gaining an avid shopper and losing one could be a single post or video on social media. An industry like fashion, which we have lately found to not be an ‘essential’ one, will have to take steps in the right direction during this outbreak to ensure they keep the conversation going amongst shoppers without sounding outmoded in their approach.
As all avenues from malls to stores and restaurants are shut and people are forced to stay home, social media platforms are booming with unprecedented traffic. This is an excellent opportunity for any brand to put themselves on the map. Innovative strategies will garner attention like never before, as most people are on the hunt for newer things to do on the internet every day.
What’s more, these brands don’t have to shell out enormous funds to showcase their creativity. It has become a game of one-upmanship within the confines of your home, both for brands and their patrons.
Enthralling the stay-at-home customer
COVID-19 remains the only topic on everybody’s mind as they go through their daily lives, so traditional marketing may come off as insensitive at these times. Time spent on the internet has gone up a whopping 70 per cent along with a jump of 61 per cent in engagement on social media platforms. According to data revealed by Facebook recently, the company has seen up to 70 per cent more time spent across their apps, with Instagram and Facebook Live views doubling in just a week.
This is not the time to be focusing on projects aimed at garnering revenue; rather, this is an opportunity to create a community of your followers. As many businesses fight to survive, how they connect with consumers will be an essential part of their recovery, as told by Nick Stickland, Founder and Executive Creative Director of Odd, an integrated creative agency specialising in consumer marketing for fashion and lifestyle brands to Vogue Business. “Brands that can continue to communicate during these times will likely be the ones that are applauded and remembered in a post-COVID-19 world.”
There are a few strategies brands can keep in mind while marketing in the current times.
Showing you care
While many brands have continued to market their products and discount offers just the same, others have made sure their customers know they put safety first. As many brands dive into providing protective gear and essentials to those in need along with donating to charities, it is also important to motivate your followers on social media. Nike has been exemplary in their positive, supportive marketing campaigns during the pandemic. Right as they announced the shuttering of stores in the US, Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand for the 2 weeks in the midst of March, they ensured they conveyed to their employees and customers how they safeguard their interests. They mandated their employees to stay home, with full compensation throughout the quarantine as well as encouraged people to stay home and to stay healthy through their Instagram handle.
Another example of reminding your patrons to stay connected with their loved ones was brought forth by Kohl’s who highlighted it in a timely email, and Everlane stated ‘we’re in this together’ – a theme that other retailers are also promoting.
It’s all about comfort
With more and more people working remotely, the norms of dressing are changing up too. Bringing new trends in pieces like cardigans and lounge wear will enhance business as people get tired of the same dowdy clothes day-in and day-out. People are uploading videos of their workout sessions, which have led to more demand or hype around active wear. The same is the case for the athleisure industry which caters to the ‘Netflix & Chill’ generation, trading in their formals for pyjamas. Another industry booming right now is the home goods market as people spend more time confined to their homes.
Online shopping has already shown signs of success, as people are cordoned to their couches. Promoting new assortment in line with messages that encourage consumers to relax and unwind during these uncertain times can go a long way in increasing sales.
Getting in on the challenges
TikTok has been the playground for the genesis of many a challenge. While some are playing myriad versions of bingo, others are getting their followers to chip in to draw, cook, dance or post their favourite outfits from the brand. Recently, Alexander McQueen encouraged followers to submit their interpretations of the Rose dress that closed its Autumn/Winter 2019 show. The hashtag #McQueenCreators became an instant success with almost 14,000 hits in a matter of four weeks.
The brand Reffstrup ran a challenge called #HomeIsWhereTheHeartIs, asking followers to create artwork inspired by the theme. The shortlisted works are set to be featured as part of their pop-up exhibition at Copenhagen Fashion Week in August, and the winner and runner-up will receive a €1,500 and €500 gift card, respectively. Brand challenges like these work well because they encourage young people to create content while feeling like part of a movement.
Boosting their morale
Working away from a proper environment along with juggling household chores can lead to a serious dip in morale for most. Finding ways to keep the customer base engaged and inspired can be learnt from Khloe Kardashian’s denim brand Good American, which recently promoted interviews on career and business advice alongside outfits to shop. Retailers are increasingly using staff picks to resonate with customers to show what the team is wearing and their top tips for working from home. In fact, brands are even planning virtual parties on Instagram and Facebook Live to help cool off the pressure of mundane days wearing people down.
Instagram is excellent for direct interaction with customers and gathering data on their preferences. Streetwear label John Elliott, for example, is sharing music playlists to his followers on the platform, and Stradivarius live streamed famous Mexican singer and actress, Danna Paola, with the hashtag #musictostayhome. Glossier is live streaming beauty tutorials to their followers using products they already own.
COVID-19 is testing brands, but through the power of social media, brands can emerge even better than before. Knowing your audience as well as being transparent and reassuring are all integral to marketing a brand to success even in these unsettling times.