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The Day After Lockdown: New Connections Generating New Business Opportunities



Giovanna Ferrero, social media director and senior digital strategist at VMLY&R Italy reflects on the impact of Covid-19 on brands and how this is changing with consumers

The Day After Lockdown: New Connections Generating New Business Opportunities

What happens after lockdown? How do post Covid-19 consumers evolve? Have we totally changed or are we eventually going back to our old ways? 

These questions are nowadays existential dilemmas that stop marketers, entrepreneurs, advertisers and analysts all over the world from sleeping. And this is understandable, since we have always been accustomed to having medium and long term forecasts, professionally designed and often right.

Today it's very different, it's all new and constantly evolving (it was even before, but with more decodable elements). Now we're looking for both short-term solutions, to avoid deleterious slips, and for new roadmaps, to prevent crisis resulting from a lack of renewal and understanding of consumer needs.

During this period, digital transformation has been imperative and necessarily very fast. Social media has seen a considerable increase in usage time, as well as a partial change in its role, from ‘entertainer’ to real ‘enabler’.

Until a few months ago, social media marketing was a plus that could be added to the communication strategy, but often derived from an ‘adaptation’ of the core campaign. Nowadays, it is evident that these touch-points have become strategic in the brand's communication plan and actions, because the consumer journey has become richer, with multiple inputs, even for consumers who were initially more reluctant to go digital.

A new approach is emerging not only to services and products, but specifically as concerns communication. After the release of various TVCs with positive, proximity and support messages, the attention shifted to actions, communicated with less special effects and refined execution, but with a more pragmatic and concrete approach.

An example of this, was the communication of EXPERT, a retailer specialised in consumer electronics, which decided to inform its consumers about the new service methods during the lockdown, using social media as a channel of information but also of proximity.

Activia by Danone used a different approach, which did not directly refer to the Covid-19 topic, but however worked in a concrete way for the connection with its consumers.

With the project OMGut! born from the analysis of consumer insight on the theme of bowel wellbeing, a theme always scarcely treated, it has developed an edutainment storytelling that strongly brings the brand closer to its community, providing useful information with an engaging and immersive approach. Everything through social and digital channels, which allow an immediate and shared benefit, enriching the consumer experience.

Marketers and communicators are therefore beginning to explore new styles of languages, because it is now clear that communication, as an end in itself, is not functional and does not increase proximity to consumers, which is possible more easily through social channels, always active, always accessible, with the user ready to discover, watch and engage.

Several companies in the interior design sector are launching digital projects to engage the consumer, providing content which goes beyond the offered products: from e-commerce platforms to virtual catalogues, podcasts and webinars for their community. It’s a plus that becomes an essential element and strengthens brand identity, which over time the consumer will consider a reliable and functional touchstone for his needs and habits.

We must not categorise these operations as ‘belonging to the Covid-19 period’ since they have created a new role for brands, for socials and digital, and a new relationship between brand and consumer. This will remain afterwards, because the habit of using e-commerce and digital services is consolidating and will only continue.

Consumers will reward brands that offer a multi-channel experience, balancing online and offline, making brand identity transversal regardless of touchpoint, and helping to make life easier and simpler, in addition to the service and product offered.  

If we already knew that connections were important, now we have tangible proof. And it's here that the most interesting challenge is coming up: don't go back to old communication, because we have seen that it is restrictive for brands and increasingly far from consumers.

This is communication! and its fascination lies in its continuous evolution that brings new opportunities.

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VMLY&R Italy, Fri, 29 May 2020 10:28:09 GMT