The Next Normal: How Marketers Adapt

Five ways marketers can respond to the disruption of 2020 

For any marketing professional the last four months has been a roller coaster. How we think about marketing technology has shifted. We are open to new ideas. We’ve tried TikTok, have given baking a go and all become very aware of the term ‘Zoom Meeting’. It may feel like the shifting has slowed and we’re settling into a new sense of stability, but don’t be fooled. As the world’s greatest investor, Warren Buffet said about 2020, ‘It isn’t over just yet’. But it’s far from a time to focus on the doom and gloom, it’s a chance for marketers to be proactive and adjust to The Next Normal.  


What’s the Impact so far?

Answer is, we still don’t know. As Australia is seeing now, recurrences of social lockdowns and changes in consumer behaviour are set to continue until we have a vaccine. That almost certainly causes a ripple effect on businesses, which we’ve started to see already via the increase in digital consumption and ballooning impacts on sister industries to those initially affected.  

These trends can be relied on to continue, alongside ‘New Normals’ like changes in what was once considered predictable consumer behaviour and a return to a sense of global isolationism for a once internationally interconnected world.  


Where are we Now?

In responding to the challenges of a pandemic, the three major groups of Government, Businesses and Consumers have differing goals when approaching their new challenges, and therefore are taking different actions. Government is focused on protecting lives, at the explicit expense of commercial activity. Businesses are focused on protecting their core, and cutting the periphery, while consumers are actively protecting savings at the expense of consumption.   

With just these behaviour insights, businesses can begin to map out how they move forward and set out a roadmap on what to do right now. All off the above groups are asking themselves a question: What is ‘essential’ to them. For businesses there’s three vital things in mapping out what’s essential: predictable costs, protecting high-performing services and restoring competitive advantage.  

Demand disruptionUnderstand where your business fits in responding 


Remember, Disruption is not new

Despite what we hear about 2020 being ‘unprecedented’ or ‘unforeseen’, it filters down to being another, very significant, point of disruption for businesses. Much like the emergence of a new competitor, disruptive moments present a challenge to businesses. Structural breaks, more significant moments of disruption, moments that often shift consumer demand behaviours quickly, a moment like now, forces us to re-think. Those that adapt can lead the next phase of economic growth.  

TimelineHow businesses have responded to structural breaks 

We’ve seen consumer behaviour change: there’s been an 81% increase in touchless e-commerce content on desktop is being consumed 41% more, and we’re consuming news 71% more, all rapid shifts on expected behaviours.  

As always, when faced with disruption, the wrong way forward is more of the same.  


Time to adapt

The principles of marketing too, remain largely unchanged, what must change is your strategy. Marketers should always strive to ensure their brands are Resilient, Agile and Predictable. It’s a hallmark of a good marketing strategy – developing a relationship with customers where they know you’ll be there and trust that your business will respond effectively to market changes.  

Resilience – For brands to be seen as resilient, you must focus on limiting the impact of disruption on your customer. Find new ways to connect with your customers as they adapt and test your unique selling point is valid after the structural change.  

Agility – It is safe to assume consumer behaviour has changed in response to the pandemic. Businesses need to take this assumption forward and analyse how your once predictable customer motivations have altered. Has the breadwinner shifted? Is a once-dormant customer segment now supremely active? Businesses need to be agile, and marketers need to incorporate those changes.  

Predictability – Consumers love predictable brands – companies that can be relied upon when circumstances change to provide that same experience. Marketers need to make sure they are where consumers expect them to be. Technology can play a vital role in giving businesses access to data that allows them to pre-empt changes in customer behaviour to reinforce predictability.  


5 Ways you can adapt to The Next Normal

Changes in consumer behaviour outline five key ways brands can pivot how they interact with customers, and where they find green shoots.  

1. Pivot to Touchless 
Consumers are demanding access to services via a touchless solution. Brands like Chipotle in the US have seen this and responded well – with reductions in in-store purchases, a pivot to online sales has seen them not only make up that gap but increase per customer sales since being disrupted.  

2. Double down on your unique selling point 
Some things remain unchanged, including what consumers uniquely expect when engaging with you. Your core advantage over your competitors is still relevant to changing consumer demand. Providing consumers something that nobody else can is a tested way of staying competitive and growing, don’t forget to reinforce what makes you great.  

3. Focus on your legacy advantage 
Brands like IBM have long adhered to a tried and tested method of managing structural breaks: embrace what we’re known for – building the future. Your legacy advantage compared to your competitors could have remained active. Analyse that and lean into what has worked before, if it applies.  

4. Capitalise on available assets 
We’ve seen a $10billion hole emerge in TV advertising spend, right when we see consumers consuming more traditional channels. So too have we seen a reduction on cost-per-click across digital advertising and major drops in brick and mortar retail costs. These are all opportunities for business growth. Where you see deflated costs that align with your marketing strategy, take advantage of them.  

5. Commit to your audience and stakeholders
Disruption like a structural break presents an often-undiscussed opportunity: building brand love amongst your active consumers and suppliers. The centralised nature of what 

As our initial response dissipates, commentary from brands about ‘being in this together’ begins to fade, a new question emerges: Who will aim for more than just recovery? Who’s going to aim for growth? 

You can watch the Marketics ‘The Next Normal’ Webinar, hosted by Albert A.I’s VP of Strategy, Ashna Shah, on YouTube now


Youtube - The Next Normal