In this opinion piece, Joshua Tan (pictured, an adman with 10 years of experience in building brands, outlines his thoughts on the best course of action for brands wanting to survive during these challenging times…
Unless you’ve been away on a 12-day silent meditation like Jared Leto, you’re probably across what’s happening across the industry from both a consumer and brands point of view. To sum up these unprecedented times, consumers have gone on an apocalyptic stockpiling spree (with good reason seeing as there’s no line in the sand drawn to when all this will end), e-commerce will boom more than ever (assuming supply chains aren’t affected), and brands need to be on the front foot to acclimatise to this new environment.
Especially given the shift in user behaviour where audiences are more likely to spend even more time on social now that we’re advised to be under house arrest; it comes down to the basics of why people love social: staying up-to-date with news and current events, staying in touch with what their friends are doing, finding entertaining content and to fill spare time (in descending order according to Global Web Index).
So, what’s the best course of action for brands to consider at this point in time?
1. Be responsive, not reactive
It’s easy to get caught up in the noise and say something for the sake of saying something. But as any responsible marketeer knows, actions speak louder than words. Firstly, understand the nature your business is in. Is it going to help people or will it be self-serving? Then, the proper structures and processes need to be in place to actualise these actions.
Of utmost importance, it’s ensuring these actions are followed through. Consumers need brands they can trust more than ever. In this fragile state, it’s imperative consumers are reassured and actions are listed clear and concise. Then, it’s having the right community management teams in place. This is how we can nurture that trust. The lack of social interaction now makes for an even more compelling argument to form human-to-human connections.
2. Think differently
If day-to-day business is disrupted, then so too should business models. Most leading brands have already taken a proactive stance by pausing all close proximity channels (F&B, retail), offering complimentary products and services where relevant (sanitary and hygiene products) or reinventing their wheels (overhauling operations to innovate offerings).
What are some initiatives to take? Redistribute your assets whether it’s manpower, infrastructure or services towards helping the greater good. How can your brand selflessly help communities in need by providing what matters most? Empathy, assurance and trust are the values to strive for. People don’t often remember what you do or say, but they remember how you make them feel. And besides, isn’t that what mateship is all about?
3. Lean on each other (metaphorically)
There has always been a constant battle over “stealing more market share from our competitors”. But, what happens when there is no market to be shared? To this, I’d challenge and ask brands to find ways in collaborating to provide solace to people. With the current state of things where resources are thin, assets are stretched and the marketplace volatile, there is strength in numbers. Coles, Aldi, Woolies and IGA, for example, have come together and released a full-page press ad to calm unsettled nerves amongst consumers.
So, what happens when the dust settles?
History has proven things will go back to normal (read plagues, influenza, diseases). Some businesses may be hit in the short term, but persevering will see us through.
People will want to go out and eat after they’ve OD-ed on their 500 packs of pasta bought in a frenzy. People will want to mingle as humans are intrinsically social beings. And businesses will recover. What can we do in the meantime? Focus on the now and respond accordingly (see 3 points above), then continue to put people (customers) top of mind.
After all, what good is building a brand when no one remembers you at the end of the day?