If we ask you to describe the year 2020 in a few words, what will be your answer? There are great chances that your answer will revolve around ‘coronavirus’ or ‘pandemic’ or ‘lockdown’. However, what we forget to realize is the fact that this single year has made a significant impact not only in our current lives. But a careful inspection shows that this severe effect and a larger digital lifestyle is here to stay. 

Social distancing or lockdown imposed an almost ban on mobility. This was very new for every social being who is also a part of a large interdependent society. But humans have been taught to find the solution for every obstacle that comes in their way. Consequently, the digital world became a new reality.

Change in consumer behaviour

The pandemic led to severe economic loss. However, falling income did not mean an absolute loss for the retail sector. People rather switched to buying essentials like groceries. Luxury services and goods saw a decrease in their sales. Fitness emerged as another domain where people invested in. Apart from Facebook-owned applications, video calling apps like Zoom and Microsoft Teams gained popularity. 

Mckinsey & Co. published a report on the impact of COVID-19 on consumer sentiment and behaviour. The report was prepared after conducting weekly, bi-weekly and monthly surveys in 12 countries, and showed that 91% of Indians changed their shopping behaviour as a result of the global crisis. 

In order to avoid crowded places, urban consumers working from home turned to the online medium for their shopping needs. Another interesting revelation from the report highlighted a 10 per cent growth in online shopping globally. This change extends across various categories.

Pandemic or Digital Revolution?

According to eMarketer data, eCommerce sales in the US in 2020 were to grow by 32.4%. While brick-and-mortar stores were expected to decline by 3.2%.

This shows how shopping has evolved as a concept. It has elevated from an activity that requires a customer to go out to a ‘shop’. Moreover, experts predict that this shift to eCommerce will continue post-pandemic, even when mortar stores open.

Digital marketing in the pandemic

Over the course of history, commerce has evolved significantly. It has progressed from being a barter system to one that is centered around customers. In short, commerce has become customer-centric and demand from the consumer’s end has shaped production. 

In the market today, there are many substitutes available for a customer and competitors for a company. This has made marketing an additional necessity. With the change in consumer behaviour, these traditional marketing trends have also changed. 

A shift from physical to digital commerce requires a stronger emphasis for marketing through the digital sphere. Responding to this need, some digital marketing strategies gained considerable popularity this year.

Connecting and creating with empathy

The pandemic emerged as a difficult time for everyone. Professional as well as private life became a blunder for a large proportion of the population. Businesses, individuals, and communities endured severe hardships. However, many brands responded with empathy during this crisis. They used their business or influence to do something for the greater good. 

Clothing manufacturers created and distributed masks to the public. They switched to catering to the demand and need of the public. While some distilleries started producing hand sanitizer because of its widespread shortage. 

On the digital medium, brands created a new type of content. They offered free tutorials and trails. Additionally, entertaining and engaging content entertained the isolated masses. These efforts helped in spreading positivity in the time of panic and distress. Most importantly, customers connected and engaged more closely with these brands in the process. 

Updating content of old times

Coronavirus pandemic redefined life. This was very different from what everyone was used to living so far. In a period when everyone is isolated, wouldn’t seeing crowded gatherings seem absurd? The stress on social distancing made crowds a danger sign or a threat in simpler words. Hence, crowds anywhere were not desirable. 

In a short span of time, our lives have changed which would make social gatherings and crowds not relevant. The core of the content is based on its relevance to the audience. As a result, brands had to change their content and align it with the new pandemic-inspired lifestyle changes of its customers. 

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, KFC, the fast-food chain aired advertisements showing people finishing their while licking their fingers clean. This was not suitable in the hygiene conscious environment of the new virus. Consequently, it was pulled off the web.

Pandemic or Digital Revolution?

Then the new advertisement focused on living in the new reality of social distancing and hyper-handwashing.

Investing in the future

Travel sector was a booming economic area that was harshly impacted with the pandemic. The closing of international borders led to the loss of those in business. Traveling remained limited to essential workers and industries. However, many brands shifted their efforts to creating engaging content.

The increase in production meant expanding the social media presence with travel blogs, photo contests, influencer marketing, etc. This created a buzz for the brand in a time when the industry was at its lowest. Then the efforts of travel companies served as a reminder. This means despite lower demand, the marketing efforts should never reduce. Instead, there should be a stronger emphasis on the same to generate greater demand in future. In short, building and maintaining a relationship with customers should be a brand’s priority.

Exploring other strategies 

With a period that is based on technology, digital marketers took the tool a step ahead with experiential marketing. More and more brands are investing in augmented and virtual reality, gamification to keep the customer’s attention. Additionally, paid advertising also emerged as a good option. However, the pandemic proved that content always remains the true king. 

One can’t deny that in the wake of an economic crisis, digital marketing served as a boon. It helped in running businesses and meeting needs. Moreover, it built customer relations and interaction with the community more effectively. It is in this wake, we need to realize that we are just entering history. The pandemic has just set up the stage for a digital revolution. This is the beginning of a digital planet.

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