It feels like we say this every year now, but this year has been an extremely eventful one.
We began the year in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic and are ending it squarely on the downslope of it. And the craziness of 2021 has certainly left its mark on the marketing landscape.
Here in Louisiana sports betting was legalized, creating a brand-new market for sportsbooks and casinos overnight. On a national scale, Name, Image, and Likeness laws have been put in place that allow college athletes to profit off their status and hard work for the first time ever, creating interesting new marketing opportunities for businesses both large and small.
But like seemingly every other aspect of our lives, the biggest changes to marketing this year came as a product of the pandemic.
As supply chain issues are slowly getting resolved and lives return to some normalcy, retailers and suppliers are able to better meet consumer demands. Even as we gradually return to the pre-pandemic levels of social interaction and consumption, a number of the changes that were made out of necessity look to hang around for a while, perhaps permanently.
At the most basic level, most of these changes are centered around convenience, such as curbside pick-up, online ordering and cashless payments. However, these are minor changes that a business can easily implement themselves.
Looking at the bigger picture, digital experiences have become paramount. This includes everything from offering online menus, detailed order fulfillment status information and more personalized experiences. This in turns leads to a great emphasis placed on the customer journey instead of a direct marketing plan.
Gaining a new customer has never been easier as people are now open to trying new things in order to keep life from becoming monotonous, but in turn the game has changed to retaining them and enticing them to come back as a repeat customer.
For example: if before the pandemic you took an arterial road to and from work each day, you may be more likely to pick up dinner or groceries from a store along that road. But if you worked from home during the pandemic, you may have been more likely to try a new place located on a side street that would have normally been out of your way.
If you had a positive experience and wanted to come back, keeping your order and card information on file for a more expedient and convenient transaction may give them an advantage other the more established place.
Obviously, you will always be competing with your direct competition, but now you’re also competing with the last experience the customer had with you.
And on an even larger scale, this year has taught us that your brand should value its values. As an effect of raised social awareness and activism, 61% of consumers are willing to purchase an off-name brand if they were to have an issue with the name brand.
Customers will always value quality, service and affordability, but now they are starting to value things like social responsibility, sustainability and ethics more. What’s more is that as people engage in social activism at a higher frequency, the more they see through vague statements that do nothing more than tout the company policy. Consumers are looking for more concrete action to back up those words.
It’s one thing to talk the talk, in 2022 companies have to start walking the walk.