Top Trends Spawned by Corona-Virus: COVID-19 New Normals that will impact Marketing and Crisis Communication
Did you get caught with your crisis communication pants down?
The outbreak of COVID-19 created massive economic and social behavior shifts in Q1 of 2020. Companies and brands were caught without a crisis communication plan in place.
Consumers and brands alike are operating in a state of fear and in isolation. Consumers are “panic buying.” Brands are shifting to sensitive advertising. Companies are creating ad hoc crisis communication plans. Employees are working from home. New pop-culture rhetoric is developing, eg “social distancing.” And from all of this, new business trends are evolving.
We are living in COVID-19 new normals. Where first responders like paramedics, police, nurses, doctors are spawning movements like I’m the Cure #imthecure.
Families are planning upcoming holiday meals like Seder virtually. (Upside: my bestie and I won’t get in trouble for giggling since we can mute ourselves.) Cocktail hours are virtual via Facetime or Zoom. Birthdays are being celebrated with drive-by parades. Kids are going for walks with their parents and drawing chalk pictures on their friend’s sidewalks.
Without question, Coronavirus new normals require marketing communication to adapt in real-time. Brands that didn’t have their crisis communication plan in place are scrambling to respond.
From curbside services to contactless delivery, CEOs are brainstorming ways to generate revenue, keep employees on board and provide value to consumers at a safe distance. Many companies are having to come up with new ways to implement operations with employees working from home.
Which trends are most likely to impact business decisions?
The emergence of these top 5 trends spawned by the corona-virus is most likely to affect future corporate marketing communication.
1. Global Interdependence
Our global interdependence is now undeniable. Countries are sending each other everything from medical supplies to hand sanitizers to meet demand. This new trend is likely to spill over in ways we can’t yet foresee.
The realization that we all need one another to stay healthy to survive this pandemic has created stronger global alliances. Expect to see strange bedfellows (albeit 6 feet apart) and disruptive partnerships.
2. Adaptive Thinking
We are seeing a surge in adaptive thinking. Companies, retail stores, and brands are brainstorming how to contribute and also stay afloat. To do so, they need to think about how their current services can help others and/or be adapted to sell to meet current consumer needs.
In Los Angeles, restaurants are selling their produce orders as groceries. Companies that create staging are offering to help set up makeshift medical facilities.
3. Cooperative Manufacturing
Privately held brands have stepped up to adapt their product manufacturing lines to help fight the spread of the virus.
For example, Ford and General Electric are now making ventilators. “Ford Motor and General Electric’s health care division said on Monday that they together planned to produce 50,000 ventilators over the next 100 days to help meet the needs of hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic.” [New York Times, March 30, 2020]
4. Wellness Products
Fashion brands like Chanel are making face masks and cosmetic companies like Christian Dior are manufacturing hand sanitizer. The COVID-19 new normal is likely to permanently impact product lines created by these private companies.
It’s likely we will see these supply chains continue to produce personal wellness products, even if at a fraction of the pace.
5. Industry Validation
Affirmation that cannabis is an essential business by government agencies has put this CPG on the map. The COVID-19 pandemic appears to be a likely, albeit unexpected, path to federal legalization for cannabis in the U.S.
The increase in sales is proving it to be a pandemic necessity, alongside toilet paper and cleaning supplies. Cannabis-infused products, like Bhang, are quickly becoming a mainstay in stress-remedy cabinets across America. The increase in consumer demand for edible THC products for both medicinal and recreational use is unlikely to reverse.
6. TikTok Culture
TikTok, for those that weren’t paying attention, seems to have appeared from nowhere and become a verb. The social media platform engages with users on an individual and group level. Users log in and create videos with usable tools that enhance fun challenges. (Bhang has created a “Bhaked with Bhang” #SweetQuarantine challenge.)
The social media platform promotes creativity, music and physical activity via dancing, lip-synching, comedy and other activities. As a result, “TikToking” is a new culture. According to eMarketer, social media “usage is rising as consumers try to stay connected, informed and entertained while in quarantine.” [Social Media Update Q1 2020, March 31, 2020]
The spread of the virus has changed–arguably irreversibly–global society. Crisis communication roles will become a mainstay in corporations for the foreseeable future. The global climate and these emerging trends must be taken into account when shaping marketing initiatives for 2020. How corporate marketing and communications teams respond will likely determine which brands survive the pandemic.
–Did you have your crisis communication plan in place? What did your company learn? Are you willing to share how you have pivoted, given back or changed internal policies? If so, please text your experience to +1 213-295-7976