The COVID crisis has devastated everything in society, including both our personal and professional lives. But it may be the latter that adjusts and recovers quicker, at least according to marketers in a new study from the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and Truth Central, McCann Worldgroup’s global intelligence unit. The new report finds that while a majority (60 percent) of marketers believe their company will be back to normal within a year, only 40 percent believe their lives will be back to normal.
The study revealed that marketers are much more likely to focus on the potential of the pandemic to drive innovation and creativity than the average person, likely because they expect faster change is possible in their companies than their everyday lives. For example, 94 percent of marketers believe the crisis will inspire new innovations (vs. 39 percent of global consumers) and 55 percent of marketers are inspired by the creativity they’ve seen (vs. 22 percent of global consumers).
Those findings suggest that while marketers share the same personal health/life concerns as the average consumer, they are more optimistic about the opportunity to impact the future through the businesses they represent.
Where the world is on the Pandemic Journey:
“The pandemic has had a deep and profound impact on the marketing industry, an impact that will have long lasting implications,” said Bob Liodice, ANA CEO, in a news release. “This report demonstrates that marketers are actively addressing the transformation and addressing consumers evolving needs creatively and with increased sensitivity and passion.”
The lag in long-term marketing
The study indicated that marketers are being forced to think and act for the short-term, revealing an opportunity to capitalize on long-term gains and innovation. Sixty-six percent of respondents agreed their consumers’ needs will change in the long-term, yet only 18 percent said they’re planning for it.
At the same time, 65 percent of marketers said they’re planning for the short term (up from 49 percent pre-COVID-19), which aligns with 82 percent of marketers who believe their customers’ needs have changed in the short-term. Brands that can find the space to focus on long-term plans will have an advantage in understanding what matters most to consumers.
How far in advance was your company planning before the pandemic? How far in advance is your company planning right now during the pandemic?
The world is changing, but marketing principles stand firm
Marketers predict an acceleration of existing strategies rather than an emergence of “net-new” opportunities in response to COVID-19. When asked their forecasts for the impact that COVID-19 will have on their companies, the top word in marketers’ responses was “accelerate.” Marketers are focused on optimizing the elements of the business they can control, such as new channels and technologies, over new markets or audiences:
How do you believe the coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak has impacted existing marketing strategy initiatives?
“The current environment shows us that, when it comes to marketing, everything and nothing has changed,” said Suzanne Powers, McCann Worldgroup global chief strategy officer, in the release. “Whether it’s focusing on people or reacting in the short-term to rapidly changing market conditions while simultaneously planning for long-term objectives, these values have not arisen from the pandemic so much as they have been accelerated by them. Our past research shows that 81 percent of people believe that global brands have the power to make the world better…this is a clarion call for marketers to take a constant pulse on the audiences they serve and respond nimbly to rapidly changing attitudes and conditions.”
The power of people-based marketing
When asked how COVID-19 has impacted existing marketing strategies, marketers said they have maintained their commitment on people-driven initiatives, highlighting the need to continue aligning with the issues most important to consumers. To the question, “How do you believe the coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak has impacted existing marketing strategy initiatives,” marketers ranked the following at the top: Diversity and inclusion; development/implementation of data/privacy innovation; and sustainability.
For marketers to remain the voice of the consumer, they must remain constantly up to date on the values and causes about which people truly care, the study showed. To that end, 84 percent of the marketers surveyed believe they should focus their efforts on gathering consumer insights regarding changing attitudes.
The survey, Marketing Through Crises: What Marketers Say,canvassed over 300 top marketers on the challenges and opportunities to their brands generated by the COVID-19 pandemic.