Coronavirus has taken over our lives, no matter where you live, from working-at-home, to stay-at-home orders, to people getting sick. This has taken a major toll on consumption for all industries. Given the losses the companies are seeing, how are they marketing during this time? While it is still too early to determine long-term effects, we are already viewing implications in the short-term, such as:
- The cancellation of all sporting events, has led to less advertising and sponsorships for companies, athletes, venues, and restaurants. This could lead to less consumer consumption of products.
- Marketing events are also being canceled. For some of these companies, there are sunk costs for which there will be no return on investment (ROI).
- There will also be delayed, less, or no ROI on events like the Olympics, company retreats, conferences, sporting, and marketing events, and non-profit fundraisers that have been postponed, will be live-streamed, or cancelled.
- In the UK, there has been a decrease in spending on TV. This is mostly a precautionary measure, yet revenue is estimated to have decreased by 10% (Jeffries). On the other hand, it is expected that there will be an increase in digital ad spending, especially on social media. To date, there has been an increase in influencer engagement by 76% (Jeffries).
- There will be a trend towards e-commerce, given the stay-at-home orders. This pairs well with the increase in social media marketing.
- There has been a shift from promoting premium products to everyday items or lower-priced (sale) items, such as toilet paper and basic clothing, including sales at GAP and Nordstrom. This is because consumers are worried about money and are not thinking about the expensive items. Toilet paper has become such a hard-to-find commodity that there is a third-part Costco website dedicated to telling consumers if toilet paper is instock at their costco.
- The airline industry has also been hit very hard, as most people have ceased all travel. Airlines are offering extensions on frequent flier mileage programs, changing all flights for free for the next x period of time (it keeps on extending), and are even offering flights at lower prices. Planes are also being repurposed to move medical equipment. While this is most likely to help pay the bills and staff, without any advertising it also increasing their brand image.
In addition, brands are taking on a new tone when advertising. Nowadays, television channels are advertising based on the #stayathome campaign. For example, HGTV created a new commercial “#HomeTogether”. Burger King even has a new commercial stating that they have taken extra precautions to keep their customers safe. Hotels.com came out with a commercial where their mascot “Captain Obvious” is shown with the text “He’s going to be social distancing for a while, and you should, too.” I think that these commercials have good intentions, but the ROI is yet to be seen. Either way, they are not looking for people to currently leave their house and gather, but are working with the government to keep the community safe.
It is not a surprise to see a decline in expensive forms of advertising, given the large number of jobs that have been lost. The question is, how does marketing revive itself after the Coronavirus pandemic has passed?
Adams, Peter. “How Coronavirus Could Impact Marketing, from e-Commerce to the Olympics.” Marketing Dive, 28 Feb. 2020, www.marketingdive.com/news/how-coronavirus-could-impact-marketing-from-e-commerce-to-the-olympics/573176/.
Jeffries, Ben. “Coronavirus and the Marketing Industry: What Happens next?” The Drum, The Drum, 20 Mar. 2020, www.thedrum.com/opinion/2020/03/20/coronavirus-and-the-marketing-industry-what-happens-next.
Talbot, Paul. “How The Coronavirus Pandemic Impacts Marketing Strategy.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 19 Mar. 2020, www.forbes.com/sites/paultalbot/2020/03/19/how-the-coronavirus-pandemic-impacts-marketing-strategy/#24b98b194dc2.