The COVID-19 pandemic threw the marketing world into disarray, upending long-held assumptions about customer relationships and brand promotion. After a year, there is no going back to the old routine. In a post-COVID-19 world, CMOs should focus on new marketing realities that expose the convergence of strategies, technologies and operations required to drive growth.
It’s reasonable to conclude that 2020 was a one-of-a-kind year, and that 2021 will not be any different. So, what should CMOs take away from the pandemic as they think about building brands this year and beyond? What can they do to assist businesses in accelerating their growth? And, in the age of COVID-19, how is marketing being reimagined?
In the months and years ahead, asking and addressing these questions will be important to marketing success. So, let’s look at ten ways in which the pandemic shattered critical marketing truths and established a new set of rules for the future.
Brands are Competing with The Last Best Experience Their Customers Had
Digital transformation accelerated overnight when the pandemic hit. As a result, consumer expectations for what businesses could do for them with a more digital experience skyrocketed. Customers are looking for so much more than a seamless digital transaction. Customers demand anticipatory, customized service throughout their journey now that brands have their personal data.
To ensure that their experiences meet the increased expectations of their customers, businesses can employ these three strategies:
- Make brand scores a major KPI for the entire customer-facing business, preferably utilizing real-time analytics rather than a retrospective picture.
- Create the necessary technology and data foundation to support critical use cases across the customer journey.
- Align individual and organizational goals throughout the customer journey so that any disconnects across functional silos such as sales, marketing, and customer service are hidden from the end user.
The Importance of Brand Value
The pandemic put a strain on brand loyalty. According to the 2021 EY Future Consumer Index, 49 percent of customers will prioritize the environment and climate change in how they live and the things they buy three years from now, and 26% will value sustainability as their most significant purchase criteria. This dynamic, combined with rising consumer awareness and activism sparked by the social turmoil of 2020, should compel brands to become increasingly focused on the values they represent.
The key themes from EY research demonstrate that, while convenience, quality, and affordability are still essential elements in consumer decision-making, sustainability, ethical sourcing, trust, and social responsibility are becoming increasingly important. In a post-pandemic environment where brand preferences have been unraveled, marketing has a chance to educate the entire C-suite and even the board on the significance of brand values when it comes to differentiating.
Marketing is at The Center of The Growth Agenda
There was a period when marketing was viewed as a cost center within businesses, with the primary goal of maximizing return on investment. It was frequently one of the first areas to be cut during difficult periods when topline results were affected.
During the pandemic, however, marketing has gained prominence in the C-suite as a driver of digital transformation, a significant leader of the customer journey, and the consumer’s voice – all of which are critical to other functional leaders. The C-suite cannot respond to the risks and opportunities at hand and successfully navigate the future without understanding the mindset of the marketplace.
COVID-19 has cultivated a culture of instantaneous collaboration among the leaders, focusing on the pressing need for resilience. Marketing now has the chance to take a more active position in that conversation, advancing the company’s overall growth and innovation agenda.
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