July 29, 2020
Imagination might be the way out of this crisis, at least for marketers attempting to build lasting customer relationships. Marketers have to come up with new and creative ways to woo consumers, because today’s consumers are forever changed.
“Marketers will need to think hard—and differently—about what the consumer in the next normal will think, feel, say, and do,” says Eric Hazan, senior partner at McKinsey & Company.
McKinsey has identified six potentially important changes in consumer behavior that will impact how marketers ply their trade. You can read about them in detail here. In summary, they include:
[Related: Are communications and marketing aligned for greater digital content impact? Take our survey and be one of the first to see results.]
Being imaginative and forging ahead in uncharted territory is easier said than done. The CMO Council talked with Hazan to learn more about the real challenges facing marketers in this brave new customer reality.
What are the biggest barriers facing marketers when pursuing some of these initiatives?
Hazan: Consumers have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with a decisive shift to digital and dramatically reset expectations for brands. In just eight weeks, consumers have vaulted five years in digital penetration, and significant cohorts of them have tried digital for the first time. Further, in this climate, more consumers want contactless ways of accessing products and services.
These major shifts and swings are not only rewriting the gameboard, it has completely flipped the customer decision journey on its head. Now more than ever, marketers need to think differently about how to connect with consumers.
One of the biggest challenges will be not only how to manage the massive influx of data but being able to translate the new behavioral data into meaningful insights that inform marketing investments, i.e., personalization, while also enabling rapid responses to opportunities and threats.
Another potentially larger implication for marketers will be the need to redesign shopper journeys for consumers who may be in a different state of mind. According to our recent consumer sentiment survey, we’re seeing a rise of the “homebody economy,” where people are doing more in-home activities. This means marketers will need to have a tight pulse on their customers while also ensuring they have the capabilities to meet the needs of those consumers, with the right mix of products and shopping options.
Of the six changes to customer behavior, which ones are the most dramatic and difficult for marketers and why?
Hazan: On top of the first two mentioned, we believe hyperlocal granular insights and personalization will also become critical focus areas for marketers. With the near-shutdown of travel and other lockdown constraints, localization has become even more important. Marketers will need to tap into the granular data to drive and expand deeper connections with consumers by localizing their marketing campaigns and communication. This will require marketers to rewire their operating model to provide a more granular presence at scale, by building many of the capabilities developed around personalization (particularly analytics, trigger-based messaging, and agile test-and-learn approaches).
And most importantly, putting greater emphasis on being “purpose-led”—brands will need to back up bold statements with real action and make clear commitments to causes they believe in, or risk newly empowered consumers calling them out. According to our recent research, some 61 percent said that how a brand responds during the crisis will have a larger impact on whether they continue buying it when the crisis is over.
How can marketers hedge their bets when trying something new?
Hazan: Trying new things can have big risks and big rewards, but marketers should not shy away from experimenting with new ideas and new formats. You need the safe space to fail mindfully—but do it fast. More importantly, learn from it in a test-and-learn environment. Rather than going into it blindly, tap into your data and insights to help inform your decision making and run A/B tests with a clear sense of the outcomes you want.
Not all marketers will be able to make this transition. Which marketers will succeed and why?
Hazan: The global pandemic is not only testing our creativity and resilience but our ability to adjust and pivot with speed and agility. Consumers have dramatically altered their habits, and they’re making it very clear what their wants and preferences are, not only through this crisis but beyond, so it’s important for marketers to adapt their playbook, from mindset and behavior to capabilities.
Tom Kaneshige is the Chief Content Officer at the CMO Council. He creates all forms of digital thought leadership content that helps growth and revenue officers, line of business leaders, and chief marketers succeed in their rapidly evolving roles. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
No comments yet.