News, Retail

How to Demonstrate Value During the COVID-19 Crisis

News, Retail | April 20, 2020

Here in Massachusetts, QuickPivot’s home state, we are almost three weeks into our stay-at-home advisory. However, like many other Americans, QuickPivot employees began social distancing weeks before then.

In these past few weeks our lives have been upended and we’re all managing our emotions and reactions the best we can. I encourage you to check-out an interesting article from HBR titled “That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief.”

As a marketer, I’m fascinated to see how the COVID-19 crisis has impacted the way businesses of all types sell and promote their offerings. I’m inspired by the way some brands have shifted entire manufacturing strategies to meet the needs of our frontline workers. I’m also amazed by how fast some brands have shifted their content strategies and messaging to cater to the needs of consumers.

Showing up during times of crisis

As I mentioned in our previous blog post, the brands that continue to show up and provide relevant offers to their customers will be the ones that prevail. According to Gartner, “Brands that understand the changing fears of their target customers are best positioned to stay in tune with — if not ahead of — the drivers that affect the way people shop or absorb branded messaging during this turbulent time. And being aware of the specific sources of customer uneasiness gives some brands opportunities to attempt to mitigate such concerns.”[1]

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We encourage you to try and engage your customers in conversations around how they’re feeling these days around shopping, the future, the economy and life in general. Social media is a great, quick way to gather information, but polls distributed via e-mail or a landing page are also a good option. To augment the sentiment research you do with your own customers, we’ve compiled some third-party research to help shed some light on current consumer sentiment.

Gartner COVID chartThis chart (see left) from Gartner demonstrates how consumers’ concerns around Coronavirus changed just in the month of March.[2] The concerns that have received a high response between March 18-20, 2020 were:

- Product shortages in-store
- The U.S. economy
- Me or my family getting sick
- People acting against the interest of the community
- Neighborhood, local businesses going out of business
- Loss of investment value
- A quarantine/lockdown in my community

What can multichannel retailers do to address consumer concerns?

Here are some recommendations from us at QuickPivot on how to reevaluate your marketing messaging and strategy to meet the needs of consumers.

1. Be transparent about delivery times

Be as pro-active and transparent about your inventory and supply chain. If your business is being impacted and it will have consumer-facing repercussions such as longer delivery times, be up front about it. Don’t wait rather until after an order has been purchased to let them know about the delays. You risk a sharp decline in customer satisfaction and cancelled orders. On the flip side, if your inventory and supply chain is not impacted – share that too! Capitalize on your ability to get your product to customers quickly and efficiently.

2. Share a socially-conscious message

Even if your brand wasn’t one to previously get involved in social causes, these are unprecedented times. Take advantage of your following, your brand loyalists and your evangelists and encourage them to do be socially responsible by socially distancing and following local and federal guidelines. Even better is if you can create a community of customers all united in doing the right thing.

3. Build your brand

The latest research from McKinsey shows that only 15 percent of Americans are pessimistic about the economy’s overall recovery. However, 46 percent say they will reduce their spending over the next two weeks. Based on these findings, most retail marketers can expect to see a sharp downturn in conversion metrics.

So, with that in mind, where should marketing focus? These days, the brand is king. Are there new, innovative ways that you can provide value to your customers that doesn’t involve a purchase? Perhaps you invest in a blog, highlight voice of customer data you’ve collected, or develop content that customers will want to share and evangelize. Check out what the brand Annie Selke did to make virtual happy hours a little more chic!

customer loyalty survey report

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[1] Gartner, “Early-April 2020 Update: Marketers, Solve for Consumers’ Most Urgent COVID-19 Fears,” Consumer and Culture Insights Team, March 30, 2020.”

[2] Gartner, “Early-April 2020 Update: Marketers, Solve for Consumers’ Most Urgent COVID-19 Fears,” Consumer and Culture Insights Team, March 30, 2020.”

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