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Brand behaviour in a time of lockdown

Jonathan Burch

19 May, 2020

It’s safe to say that coronavirus has completely warped what a “normal” day looks like for most people. For the last 8 weeks, people have been stuck indoors with minimal excursions, except for key workers travelling to work or necessary trips to the supermarket.

Inevitably, this has had a knock-on effect on brands. Many are unable to engage with customers in the same way as before, and so more businesses than ever have turned to online interactions to help continue conversations with customers.

With this in mind, I recently participated in a Kantar webinar to join the discussion about how brands are adapting to consumer behaviour, and what marketers need to do to ensure their brand still remains relevant during lockdown and beyond.

People are missing the normal things in life

From the get-go, what I already knew (having experienced this myself) was confirmed. Despite lockdown, people still want to try and live as normally as possible. Sure, there’s the ‘new normal’, but we still crave routine which includes most of our normal spending habits.  

The Kantar panel suggested that people are buying online because they want to continuing engaging in normality. Even though economic uncertainty will prevail for the foreseeable future, there still an urge to participate in normal activities, such as shopping, just through different mediums. With summer fast approaching, people are turning to online channels, instead of the high streets, for their summer clothing and (indoor) activities. This is an exciting opportunity for those companies that already have a strong online operation, and is an opportunity for those who don’t to transform their ecommerce business.

Marketing is key to brand survival

As marketers, we have a key role to play. In order to attract customers in such a time of crisis, marketers need to be savvy in how they help their brands engage, win, and consolidate consumer loyalty. Whether it’s encouraging the public during lockdown, exciting them about things to come post-lockdown, or even incentivising their engagement, brands need to put their customers first and show that they want to help people in this unprecedented time.

Impressions made now will stay with a brand long after coronavirus.

Planning for success

So how can brands market themselves and ensure that they are going to be successful, not only during the pandemic, but following on from it?

Kantar’s panel discussion identified four things that all brands should be doing right now:

  1. Planning for the ‘new normal’ – society will be forced to adapt and many customer behaviours instilled during lockdown will remain post-lockdown
  2. Asking what the long-term implications for its category are – brands need to understand the market landscape and how competitors may react to the pandemic
  3. Staying close to its audience and consider how to reengage them – brands need to stay front of mind for consumers so that they maintain brand loyalty
  4. Most crucially, preparing new avenues for engagement – creating digital streams that provide consumer with easy access to the brand

Obviously, digital channels have an incredibly important role to play throughout the rest of the pandemic, and this shift in channels is here to stay. For people who were not previously using these methods of engagement with brands, it is quickly becoming the new normal, and businesses need to react accordingly if they are to maintain relevance into future.