3 Top Challenges Marketers Face as America Reopens

The onset of COVID-19 changed the world almost overnight. Normal daily routines changed both immediately and dramatically, and consumer behavior shifts were just as swift. Consumers had to make adjustments in response to stay-at-home orders, lack of product or service availability and their concerns for their safety.

As vaccines roll out and America reopens, it’s a great time to assess your marketing strategy and adjust for success. Taking stock of current trends and what they mean for your business helps you prepare to overcome challenges and grow. Let’s explore 3 trends to prepare your business to thrive as consumers embrace their new normal.

  1. Shifting consumer loyalties and shopping behaviors are trends that may stick

Remember the rapid adoption of curbside pickup, delivery services, as well as “buy online, pick up in store” (BOPIS, for short) in the early days of the pandemic? As a result of the pandemic, consumer behaviors shifts were widespread, and brand loyalty took a hard hit.  In fact, according to a McKinsey study, 76% of shoppers have tried a new shopping behavior – like digital shopping, using a new website or service, choosing different brands – since the pandemic started. And even more relevant for businesses to understand as America reopens, 75-84% say they plan to continue using what they tried.

Knowing your tried and true marketing approach from pre-pandemic days may not be effective any longer, and being proactive and nimble in your approach now will be paramount. This is your opportunity to win new customers as well as bring back your previously loyal customers. Communicating with past, current and potential customers is key to letting them know your plans to meet their needs and drive traffic to your location or website.

  1. Consumers are budget conscious and seeking value

The instability and unknown of the pandemic created budget and spending awareness almost overnight for many Americans. Since the onset of COVID-19, consumers are adjusting their spending habits:

  • 32% plan to try to stick to a budget
  • 31% plan to consider each purchase more carefully
  • 46% of consumers are more interested in deals, coupons, or promotions now than before COVID-19

How can your business engage and attract these budget-conscious customers? Now more than ever, businesses need to show consumers they can offer them the most value for their dollars. Focusing on value means assuring customers that your products or services will give them a good “bang for their buck.” Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Highlight any key differentiators that make you a preferred choice
  • Shift your message to focus on value. Incorporate messaging such as “best value,” “everyday low prices” or “value menu”
  • Consider utilizing coupons or limited-time offers to drive traffic online, in app or in-store
  • Make your customers feel valued by promoting your loyalty program or app and highlighting any special perks or offers just for them
  1. Labor shortages may affect customer service and experience

It was a headline during the pandemic, and it continues as we come out of the pandemic: Businesses across many categories are challenged by lack of proper staffing to run their business. Some supply chain issues, potentially also related to labor shortages, continue to affect what businesses can offer. Some businesses are even faced with temporary closures due to personnel shortages.
This can quickly have a negative effect on customer service and experience. How can you overcome this challenge and bounce back well as America reopens? Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Identify your peak hours and adjust business hours to ensure you can accommodate the most customers
  • Align your current services, products and offerings based on options requiring fewer employees, and update product offerings to reflect those with reliable supply chain support
  • To streamline operations, promote online or in-app orders to allow employees to focus on customers at your location
  • Incorporate employment needs and incentives in your communications and advertising efforts to drive applicants

While these strategies can help you overcome the challenges presented by labor shortages, making sure your customers know about any adjustments to your operations that could affect them is critical to customer satisfaction as well. Be proactive in your communication, and highlight the value you offer your customers.

As America reopens, businesses must be prepared to maintain their customer base while also taking proactive steps to gain market share. We hope this will inform your marketing strategy to drive success. If you’d like to talk through your approach, reach out today. We are always happy to share our knowledge and experience to help you thrive in 2021 and beyond.Sources: McKinsey & Co, COVID-19 US Consumer Pulse Survey, Nov 2020; Prosper Insights & Analytics™, Monthly Consumer Survey; Consumer Behaviors in a COVID-19 World Survey, Valassis.