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5 Strategies to Help Your Brand Survive the COVID-19 Pandemic – Clare Fernando

Before I begin, please excuse my occasional levity below. I understand the adversity everyone in the world is experiencing in varying degrees due to the COVID-19 pandemic and I share in the distress felt by everyone at the seemingly unrelenting march of this insidious virus. My words are meant to help arm businesses with the lessons I’ve learned from conducting business measurement and optimisation analysis during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The world has now been living with COVID-19 for the last 7 months (if we count its origin from the time the WHO China Office was informed of a pneumonia of unknown cause detected in Wuhan in Hubei province, China on 31 December 2019). Whilst some countries are continuing to wrestle with rising community-transmitted new cases and deaths related to COVID-19, Australia by comparison has fared better with March 2020 peaks in new cases and deaths (corresponding with the harshest lockdowns and restrictions of the period enforced by Federal and State governments) reducing by the end of April, allowing the Federal and State governments to relax restrictions, signalling the start of recovery for many businesses. However, with recent debate about a possible ‘2nd wave’ actualising in Victoria and fears of this spilling into the other states (never has such brazen prejudice ensued if you answer yes to the question “Are you from Victoria or have you visited Victoria within the last 2 weeks?”), Australians are now forced to consider the possibility that we may be plunged into lockdown again. For the businesses who survived the 1st wave, this is a bleak thought indeed.

Accurace has been fortunate in continuing to deliver business insights and sustainable strategy to organisations intent on acclimatising to this new environment throughout this period. We discovered that for businesses to future-proof themselves for life mid- and post-COVID-19 pandemic they should undertake the following strategies.

1) Your Brand should promote a strong value proposition.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many people to be more aware of where they spend their money. They are more considered in their purchases and are more open to trying unfamiliar (but still reputationally-sound) brands to reduce their costs without sacrificing acceptable quality. If your Brand promotes a strong and clear value proposition, it eliminates the nagging voice in people’s heads wondering if there is another brand that offers a less-expensive option. Please note, a strong value proposition does not mean needing to lower your price point. It means clearly communicating why your product is better than what is on offer in the market and changing the conversation from one of price to value.

This environment gives challenger brands a greater opportunity to steal share from the market leaders since people are more open to considering unfamiliar brands and future job uncertainty is driving people to consider less-expensive alternatives.

This environment gives market leaders a greater opportunity to remind their customer base of the reasons for their loyalty by communicating the value of their product/service as well as the value inherent in a product supported by an established, familiar brand with a proven track record in quality and customer satisfaction (i.e. justifying the reasons for their market leader status).

If your Brand currently does not have a clear and strong value proposition – get one!

2) Your messaging should include reference to simplifying or enhancing home and/or family life.

With most Australians forced to increase their time in their homes for work and play during the COVID-19 pandemic, the interest in ensuring our homes are equipped to allow us to survive increased face-time with our families or other household members as well as thrive in our pursuits has become increasingly vital. Brands which include mention of how their products or services make home life easier, more enjoyable, less stressful, etc. have fared well in this environment. There are some categories that make it easier than most such as consumer electronics, home entertainment, in-home exercise equipment, even pet stores are recording high turnover.

3) If possible, include reference to your product or service future-proofing consumers for life post-COVID-19 pandemic.

There are 2 ways the COVID-19 pandemic will end. One way is medically, when a vaccine is developed and distributed to the general public. The second way is socially, when the epidemic of fear about COVID-19 wanes, people grow tired of being in panic mode and learn to live with COVID-19 being out there. However the scenario plays out, the COVID-19 pandemic will end. People are always thinking about their future. The COVID-19 pandemic may have highlighted any weaknesses in their ability to maintain their job. The COVID-19 pandemic may have compelled them to consider boosting their skills or carving a new career path. Organisations offering training or higher education are experiencing a boom in enquiries and applications for enrolment in their courses. Online webinars are achieving greater attendance numbers. If there are synergies between your product and people’s surging interest in increasing their capability formally, include this in your messaging, as well as run online webinars and post online training videos to raise your Brand’s profile will.

4) Run a brand campaign.

Most subscription, cable and streaming networks revealed a significant increase in new customer subscriptions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst they also indicated that this did not necessarily equate to increased profit since many of the new customer subscriptions are only subscribing to the basic package (made more challenging by the quiet sporting calendar and the suspension of filming in the entertainment industry), this still means that more people are watching their screens and devouring more content. Running brand campaigns during this time increases your Brand’s chances of reaching your target audience and bolstering brand health. During this time brand campaigns have enjoyed greater effectiveness in driving awareness, familiarity, trust, consideration, purchase and loyalty. Media that is generally most effective in supporting brand campaigns include TV and online (including display, programmatic, online video and search). Media that is generally less effective in this environment includes outdoor and cinema. However this is a market generalisation and may be subject to variation specific to your category and current brand position.

5) Optimise your Brand’s website.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers are more aware of where they spend their money. Consumers are also spending more time conducting research before a purchase. Optimise your website to secure an easy conversion of consumer interest to purchase. Ensure your website content is engaging with a clear call-to-action. Check that your website content is consistent with your advertising and values. Navigation should be simple, intuitive and direct.

In my experience, these 5 key strategies have been the common denominator with businesses who have fared better than most during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we move towards a (medical and/or social) end of the COVID-19 pandemic, I hope these strategies help your Brand forge ahead in this new environment.

For more information, please contact Clare Fernando (CEO, Accurace) on claref@accurace.com.au or +61 (0) 414 410 496.