March 23, 2020

How to make your business thrive in times of Corona

Posted by Luc Malcorps

By Aline Durand, Head of Emakina Insights,
and Sarah Claeys, Emakina Storytelling Manager

Everyone knows it: the Corona virus is changing the shape of the world. Not only private lives are affected by the health crisis and stern government measures, businesses are also deeply impacted. Customer behaviour is changing, most likely beyond the short term, something that will fundamentally change how we all do business in the future.

Nothing will ever be the same again…
including user behaviour

Let’s be honest: the data you have on the behaviour of your users from before COVID-19 no longer reflects reality. 

More than 86% of consumers say they have already changed their behaviour in the past 2 weeks to avoid the Corona virus (source: yougov.co.uk). Consumer behaviour has become more unpredictable – it made toilet paper a hot commodity overnight – and will continue to fluctuate day after day. “Your users” as you knew them last year? They don’t exist anymore. Logically, the algorithms that used last year’s data to predict their behaviour, have become ineffective. 

The main drivers for this unpredictability are boredom, creativity, anxiety and the need to connect with other people.

Creativity? Yes, you’ve undoubtably noticed the flow of hilarious #lockdown memes in your daily social media feed.
Connection? Yes, you must have seen people coming out on their balconies to sing together to cheer on the local football team or stand in their doorway to clap to cheer on medical personnel.

It’s this unlikely cocktail of human emotions that makes the future even more unpredictable.

It causes shifts in the way people consume, travel and even act.
A big group of people has started hoarding necessity products for example, and the majority have decreased spending on what are perceived as ‘unnecessary’ products. Travel has come to a halt, slowing carbon emissions the world over, and social distancing has already changed attitudes towards hygiene and personal space. Over the long-term, the COVID-19 outbreak may make these shifts in habit permanent.

Not only the way consumers spend their money has changed, also what they expect from their favourite brands.
They look to companies to step up and help tackle the COVID-19 crisis in any way they can. And they also think companies should make efforts to make connecting with them even easier than before.

More than ever, digital is full of opportunities 

​When confined to their homes, people’s window into the world is now mostly digital. They are reading more news than before and watching more TV and video content. They shop online to avoid waiting in line outside the local supermarket for hours on end, causing a boom in e-grocery shopping. Most other shops are closed, driving a spike in visitors to their e-shops. In addition, we see a growth in popularity in niches of e-commerce such as pharmaceutical delivery. ​

How to take advantage of this as a company?

​There are 3 ways your company can and should take advantage of this crisis: adapt your digital customer journey, reorient your communication strategy, and accelerate in-company innovation.

1. Adapt your customer journey

As a brand today it is imperative that you excel in delighting your customers in their own homes. That means offering them a fast, seamless and high-quality brand experience at any touchpoint in your customer journey.

To make sure this is the case, today would be a good moment to audit your user flows and identify the weak links. To use your secret tool called “empathy” to think about your users’ (changed) needs, their fears, and how you can address those with a detailed action plan.

2. Reorient your communication strategy

Yours is not the only business doubling down on digital communication to overcome closure of shops and limits to other forms of communication. To stand out from the rest, focus your communication on striking an emotional chord with your potential and current users by being positive and proactive. Aim your Marketing Automation and CRM efforts at building an emotional connection between your users and your brand. Be transparent, don’t be pushy in your messaging. Instead of trying to increase online sales to counteract a drop in offline sales at all cost, figure out how to solve your users’ problems and help them with a solution that feels personal.

3. Accelerate innovation

Why this is a good moment to speed up your innovation track? Because your users expect you to follow them where they go, and to cater to their new spending habits. Also because now you have a limited set of months to prepare for when the lockdown ends. If you want to be able to innovate fast and efficiently in the future when disaster strikes again, today is the day to start working on a strategy to foster innovation continuously across your business.

In conclusion…

Because of the Corona crisis, we see new user behaviors leading to new opportunities for businesses – especially in digital. To seize these opportunities, it is important to adapt your digital customer journey, to re-orient your communication strategy towards building a more emotional connection with your users, and to accelerate in-company innovation.

Need help with any of these? Contact us now!
Want to know more? Find out how e-commerce and retail are already adapting to new user behaviours in next week’s blog post.

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