In a recent webinar featuring guest speaker and Forrester Senior Analyst Anjali Lai, we took a closer look at what the shifts in consumer behavior instigated by 2020 will mean for business leaders in the long run. Questions abound as the year winds down: which changes will persist? Which will revert to the previous norm? Which will continue to evolve?
Throughout the conversation between Anjali and Analytic Partners SVP Mike Menkes, a few key themes emerged for those looking for ways to keep up with the evolving consumer.
Change is Not the “New Normal”, it is Simply … Normal
As it is often said – “Change is the only constant.” While the circumstances of the pandemic and economic downturn are exceptional, they are only the latest in a long line of tectonic shifts that have accelerated change over time.
However, that is not to discount the shifts in consumer behavior that have taken place, which some estimate have moved digital behaviors forward by years. Through 2020 some changes that were already in-progress have continued, some changes morphed, and some new changes began. So, what does this mean for business leaders? In short, it means that there is no point in playing the waiting game – now is the time to take action, rather than waiting for an unrealistic point in the future when things will “quiet down”.
Focus on Messaging
Research from both Forrester and the Analytic Partners ROI Genome indicates that brands are in a unique position as a result of the pandemic. In many ways, consumer are relying on brands more than ever. A Forrester survey found that 47% of consumers find it valuable to receive communications from companies with recommendations on how to stay healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 46% find information about retail store hours and/or closures valuable (source: Are Consumer Behavior Changes Here to Stay? Webinar 11, 2020 and Forrester Analytics Consumer Technographics COVID-19 Survey 1, 2020 (US)).
Now is also a time for brands to focus on sending the right forms of messaging. Our ROI Genome research indicates that brand messaging outperforms performance messaging 80% of the time, even under “normal” circumstances. Business leaders should be not only leaning into brand equity messaging, they should also be considering the right channels to broadcast that message most effectively.
As the chart above demonstrates, brand outperforms performance messaging on both video and social by roughly 15%. Conversely, digital display tends to work better for performance messaging – driven by its ability to effectively retarget consumers. Social has that capability as well, and many forms of video, but prospecting and doing so through brand messaging is an important part to focus for video and social to drive both new and existing customers.
Omnichannel is the Only Way
Messaging matters, as do the channels through which that messaging is distributed. The pandemic has heightened our omnichannel and “omnishopping” world, which means savvy business leaders should be building strategies to match those consumer behaviors and be prepared to accurately measure what’s working, what isn’t and why. But what exactly does that look like in practice? It comes down to three things:
Take a consumer-centric view. Understanding the consumer is critical, from where they are, to what they’re watching, and how they react to the interactions they have with brands – both physically and digitally. This also includes an understanding of contextual relevance, which is a key factor of success for advertising.
Leverage opportunities to increase presence and improve ROI. All marketing has an omnichannel impact, and strategic expansion is a key piece of the puzzle to getting more value out of every dollar spent. Brands should be focused on increasing their presence, and our ROI Genome research has found that a combined physical and digital presence can help drive increased impact by 32%. This expansion should include media channels as well.
Ensure a deep understanding of indirect, synergistic and cascading impacts over time. An omnichannel strategy rooted in testing and learning will allow brands to capture the broader impacts of their actions over time. Whether that be the halo effect of advertising one product or service and seeing the benefit within other sub-products, or more carefully tracking how offline advertising is driving direct and indirect online behaviors and sales – a holistic, measured view of how each channel is affecting overall KPIs is critical.
Looking for a deeper dive into how you can keep up with changing consumer behaviors?
You can watch the full video of our webinar, “Are Consumer Behavior Changes Here to Stay?” here.
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