The Covid-19 pandemic has shaken up the globe in a way that no one could have anticipated even just a few short months ago. With lockdown now in force to various degrees across the UK, brands are struggling to assess how their markets are likely to change. With a threat of a global recession – or even depression – it seems that the changes that had already begun across consumer markets are set to accelerate.
The following are just some of the main trends that are set to impact the marketing industry and the way in which brands seek to engage with customers.
1. Digital will be more important than ever
Blindingly obvious in many ways but worth re-iterating. Digital’s growth trajectory can and will only accelerate, as customers continue to live their lives with greater social distancing in mind. Large shopping centres look set to struggle as the public will be less inclined to circulate whilst fears of the virus persist. Online stores, in contrast, will have an even greater opportunity to win over existing and new customers alike. And this will place increasing pressure on key digital differentiators ranging from seamless customer journeys, true omni-channel marketing and service delivery through to personalisation and optimum use of automation such as chatbots and AI-driven marketing and re-targeting.
2. People may be less inclined to spend
Economic fears also look to become entrenched with estimates suggesting that 1 in 6 people may lose their jobs as a result of the pandemic. With widespread reporting  that UK unemployment has already hit 4.5%, disposable incomes have already reduced and price-conscious purchasing is likely to be a factor for some time to come. This merely serves to intensify the degree of competition in an increasingly crowded marketplace, further mandating differentiation.
3. Luxury brands may suffer
Recessions vary in character and whilst historically there may have been a degree of immunity in some high-end markets, the truly global nature of the pandemic suggests that many luxury brands may struggle to sell their products , especially if they also fail to fit in within- and post-pandemic consumer values around sustainability and eco-friendly buying.
4. Germaphobia will be rife
Expect to see products that deal with hygiene continuing to fare well, as fears around the virus and germs, in general, persist in the public consciousness long after the delivery of an “exit” in the form of an effective vaccine. Industry giant Proctor & Gamble is, for example, predicting core earnings growth of up to 8% in FY to 2021 .
5. Delivery and distribution will be more important than ever
Clearly, there is a symbiotic relationship between digitisation and distribution. More people will work from home, meaning that at-home delivery services will fare well. Distribution chains and partnerships may change as a result, seeing smaller brands partner in a bid to share logistics networks and compete with larger incumbents.
6. At-home services will continue to grow
From home gym kit through to cooking supplies, people will continue to stay at home through choice, as well as by mandate. This suggests that products which allow people to enjoy their time at home will become more popular. This growth will, of course, come at the expense of antecedents delivered out of the home.
7. Brands will consolidate
The high street is set to become a very different place after the pandemic, with various retail brands sounding profit alarms, along with large ‘globo-gyms’, entertainment venues and leisure facilities. Brands will no doubt further consolidate through vertical and horizontal M&A activity, with beneficiaries including mega-firms such as Amazon. Localisation will have a major part to play, evidenced by the local and regional loyalties already on display in light of variable lockdown restrictions.
This is likely to create an appetite for local networks of community service providers and brands. “Buy British” could very well become “Buy Local”, aided and abetted by groups with a focus on reduced carbon footprint and thus localised supply chains.
The post-pandemic world is filled with uncertainty and managers now really do face greater challenges than ever before. However, opportunity is inherent in the changing commercial environment for those firms willing to embrace, adapt and change. With this in mind, access to the right talent will be key to success. Why not contact Clifford Associates to find out how we can help you to secure the senior digital resources that your business will need to succeed in an in- and post-pandemic world?
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