As the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak spreads and wreaks havoc in the world, we can see a shift in consumer and business behavior. As far as economic changes are concerned, the sectors will be affected differently. It’s very important to understand the effects of such a global health crisis to determine the most effective response – both immediate and also on the long-term.
Communication in time of crisis
Long-term restrictions on movement translate into consumers spending more time at home, designing new workflows, while embracing technology. This doesn’t mean productivity should drop.
This is a crucial moment for marketing and communication agencies to be focused on client relationships, adapt to the new buying mindset while keeping a positive state of mind.
The Coronavirus comes with new obligations for business world: enterprises have to rethink the way they do business, start work remotely and keep in continuous touch with their clients and be as creative as possible – in order to keep up with changes.
Is experiential marketing at risk? We know how much people value real life experiences. As so many global events get cancelled, postponed or turned into virtual events (Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Adobe, etc.), brands need to find solutions to gain engagement. The challenge? Bring online experiences to life and make people feel connected. And don’t forget! People expect personalized experiences!
One example of driving engagement is what McDonalds is doing in order to replace the play zones from restaurants. They offers parents another type of family time opportunity – Visiting the happymeal.com website, you can find downloadable coloring pages, activities and interactive games.
NY Times gives us another great story. After surviving a devastating fire, Venice Opera House, La Fenice, now has to cancel artists’ performances. But the show must go on! A string quartet gathered in the empty theater and played Beethoven, streaming the concert online and winning an ovation of handclap emojis.
And while some industries may face difficulties (luxury, travel) others may emerge stronger (cleaning products, medical suppliers, non-perishable food, delivery services). Spending more time on TV, streaming services, social media and mobile games, will also increase the ad spend. On the other hand, ad spend in areas such as out-of-home advertising could decrease (cinema, or even radio).
Let’s try to find new opportunities, save time and use it in better ways.
Access to information and constant collaboration are crucial right now. We commend the great initiative of nearly 100 academic journals, societies, institutes, and companies to make research and data on COVID-19 freely available.
Our advice for brands?
– Plan for a range of possible scenarios. Follow and update your crisis communication procedures.
– Provide clear, up-to-date information on how your company is dealing with the current situation created by the virus.
– Another recommendation is to update your FAQs – good for organic content marketing.
– Don’t talk about Coronavirus just for engagement. Stay relevant to your brand’s identity.
– Rethink and adapt (if necessary) your ads strategy and spending, online and offline.
– Create more online content, as people will spend more time online.
– Consider your tone of voice carefully. Lead with empathy and understanding.
– Keep your personal opinions away from your brand’s official pages. Avoid any reputational damage.
– Use only reliable information from official sources (WHO).
Creativity finds a way
Creativity thrives on constraints. Among all the worrying statistics, some ingenious people have found opportunities to creatively “exploit” the current crisis.
There is no wonder cleaning products and food companies took the lead.
Sometimes, things go out of control, though.Ever since the crisis began, there has been a steady stream of memes tying the virus with the Corona beer brand. It may seem funny – or not –but let’s face it: Corona beer has nothing to do with the Coronavirus, so panic isn’t justified at all. Maybe all the Corona beer memes are just a mechanism to react to fears that come with a rising pandemic.
The impact of the Coronavirus is changing by the minute. In times of trouble, for businesses at any scale, the ability to innovate, to be flexible and creative will make the difference. In the meantime, keep calm and vigilant, and don’t forget to wash your hands!