95% of Americans are currently under some form of social restriction and have been for some time now. At Blue Moon Digital, we are in week 5 of working from home. There is a new normal and people are settling into it. As we work to keep ourselves busy, it is important to pause and understand the world we are in.
Essential businesses remain open and those who can, have shifted efforts to Ecommerce and contact-free pickup. Online spend continues but it has not made up for the loss of foot traffic. Still, other companies have simply decided to shut down to weather the storm (e.g., TJMAXX has closed both their stores and website).
In the early days of COVID-19, almost all purchases fell to the essential side of the product spectrum. In the new COVID-19 normal, some consumers are returning to their typical shopping behavior, but 56% (McKinsey) of consumers have said they are reducing purchasing in some form. Potential causes could be economic uncertainty, income instability, and perhaps, a feeling of guilt.
With the products that are selling, we are seeing an increase in tops, loungewear, and even bedding, but pants’ sales are down. Why? Well, for one, I am wearing a button-down shirt and basketball shorts. People are focusing on what they need a bit more than just what they want. #AreYouWearingPants
So how do we stay competitive, profitable, and sensitive to the needs of the consumers? We realize we are consumers in this together: working from home, reaching for snacks (again), reminding Netflix we are still here, working out to live streams in the living room, organizing our homes, and finding anything to pass the time.
So, what is it that we want? We want comfort! We want excitement! We want something that feels normal. We want the surprise that comes from opening the box that was just delivered, even if we know what is inside. As marketers, we provide solutions to new problems faced while working from home and navigating a distant world.
Channels like SEM should continue with a potential increase in non-brand. We can take new strategies to social with messages that inform and highlight new needs. Even more streamlined is your email channel—consumers are in their inbox 24% more and opening emails 15% more (eMarketer and BMDi Data). We can use this to be creative because not every message must have the goal of the sale first and foremost.
For example, offer a curated set of items that are perfect for working from home. If your audience is older, perhaps they have kids at home so highlight the products that are machine washable or stain resistant. We are not advocating over-using email, but segment accordingly to find a new balance.
If you don’t know what your consumer wants, or what they are facing, that is ok. Why not send a survey to a subset of your consumers? (Google Forms are free with an account). You will likely get responses, guidance, and even respect from the consumers who haven’t been asked. 75% of consumers have said that they will consider how a brand responds to COVID-19 in future purchase decisions, now and after COVID-19 (eMarketer).
It’s important to note that we have seen an increase in companies giving back. If you can donate or support those on the front lines, customers want to see this – or even know that their shopping does good.
We can also look beyond captured customers to new customers. Facebook has reported a 50–70% increase in usage, but CPMs are down as much as 50%. It is a great time to build awareness and capture new users to share your offerings with, now and later. Affiliate is another useful channel to reach new customers through content and highlight your products.
Finally, toss a surprise in the box. From promotional items to free products, or a poem to even a cleverly designed viral give away (1 in 20 boxes gets a surprise X, Y or Z), your customers will appreciate it.
If you have questions about your program or how your brand can make the most of today’s environment, please reach out to the team at Blue Moon Digital here.