The importance of getting ahead
A customer said something interesting to us last week. Because their business had found a way to remain open, (food sector), they were busier than normal and had picked up lots of new customers who had come to them because their normal supplier was closed. They plan to hang on to these new customers.
We thought this perfectly highlights something that we at Azzurro have been keeping a close watch on since COVID began: changes in consumer behaviour and the importance of beating your competition to the punch.
Already, it can be seen that the Coronavirus has had a tremendous impact on the stability and predictability of some of the key marketing fundamentals that held up in a pre-COVID world. Terms such as ‘brand loyalty’ and ‘audience perception’ could be defined, measured and depended upon with a strong degree of accuracy. However now, their meaning may have to be re-written, as consumer behaviour has shifted in response to lockdown.
Before, both marketing theory and our experience told us that you can always expect a certain level of loyalty from a brand’s primary audience. Time after time we see a core audience identify with a brand’s personality and as a result, queue up to adopt their latest products, and passionately advocate their benefits to their friends.
COVID-19, however, has changed the game and re-written the rulebook. The same audience, passionate and loyal, when denied access to their favourite brand due to lockdown, are far more willing to shift to a readily available alternative.
We’ve seen it occur already, people shopping for clothes online because their favourite boutique is closed, getting food deliveries from supermarkets because the local bakery is shut down.
An argument could be made that convenience simply trumps loyalty, but we think it goes deeper than that.
A New Factor to Consider
In a sense, the pandemic has introduced a new dimension to be factored into brand loyalty, which, before now was never a problem. Due to the lockdown, businesses must now account for the time their audience has spent away from the brand, unable to access it, and the effect this has on their allegiances.
A key concept in brand building is connection. Brands that ensure their audience always feel a connection to them are the ones that thrive. But due to this new dimension, many companies have been taken unaware of this sudden shift in consumer behaviour and are losing out as a result.
Unable to interact, and therefore feel connected to their favourite products, audiences are turning to the nearest, most accessible alternative.
But just because brand loyalty is wavering doesn’t mean there isn’t an opportunity to be had. Returning to the conversation we had with our client, by being open, even with safety restrictions in place, they were able to recruit some of his rival’s customers, simply by being available.
The impact and long-term implications that this pandemic will have on brand loyalty are still not fully known. But one thing is already abundantly clear to us, there has never been a more favourable moment to overtake your rivals. Or of course, a worse moment to lose ground on your competition. With audience’s drifting away from their best-loved brands, the right communication from the right alternative can help them convert and never look back.
It is in these inauspicious times, that a marketing plan can prove more powerful than ever in helping you to reach your rival’s audience and gain a greater share of the market as a result. This is particularly true if you are open with safety measures in place. But even if you have yet to reopen, a marketing plan, strategically calibrated to reach your audience across a variety of communication channels, can help you retain your audience and help keep them loyal to you.
To find out more about how a marketing plan can both secure the loyalty of your own audience, while also taking advantage of a drop in your rivals, get in contact with the marketing experts at Azzurro-Blu at [email protected] or call 01224 600005