The coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has changed much in our society. But the impact that it will have on marketing is still a bit unknown, although there are now clues as to how customers may react to your products and brand in the future.
One of the most obvious trends that we are seeing today is that the digital customer experience is now more important than ever and will only continue to increase in importance. It’s no surprise that online consumption of entertainment ramped up during the COVID-19 pandemic, along with ecommerce. But what is less obvious is that, according to the Human Behavior and Emerging Technologies Journal, the adoption timeline of new digital platforms has shortened significantly. Traditionally, marketers would rely on diffusion models to estimate the rate of adoption amongst its prospects and customers. But since COVID-19 has pushed even the most reticent of consumers to adopt digital platforms to buy groceries, order prescriptions and even consult with a physician, the shift to adoption has increased exponentially, almost merging laggards and majority adopters with early adopters in many instances. The rate of adoption is now shorter than ever. The general public is now comfortable with digital interfaces and processes, which will continue to shorten the adoption curve for new digital offerings in the future.
One thing that COVID-19 did not fix, however and potentially made worse is the enormity of misinformation. With more and more consumers turning to the internet for information (some of whom lacked awareness of fake news), the need for marketers and businesses to provide honest and valuable content to consumers is more important than ever. A solid content plan with necessary information for consumers to make the best purchasing decision will help to cut through the misinformation in the marketplace and ultimately lead to a better customer experience.
Outside of the digital space, the in-person customer experience is also expected to change significantly. According to the Journal of Retailing, customer’s perceptions of what is now an acceptable and enjoyable shopping experience may have changed forever. While touchscreens, interactive kiosks and even self-checkouts were a signal of innovation, they now are off-putting to many consumers who now view these interfaces as not innovative but instead as high-touch and therefore unsafe. Additionally, aesthetics of stores are now judged not on how thematic or enticing the interior is, but on how clean and safe the environment appears. Retailer, dealerships and service providers will now need to view their customers experience through the lens of health and safety. Presenting a clean, low touch, germ free environment is key now and is likely the key to business success in the future.
Customers attitudes will continue to evolve overtime. But it’s safe to say that at this point, we most likely will not return to the same “normal” that we once knew.