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Brief

The Intricate Task of Reaching Consumers During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The Intricate Task of Reaching Consumers During the Coronavirus Pandemic

B2C companies need to take marketing off autopilot and strengthen customer relationships.

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Brief

The Intricate Task of Reaching Consumers During the Coronavirus Pandemic
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People around the world are grappling with greater stress. Besides worrying whether they’ll contract Covid-19, they’ve also watched their investments get pounded and their work and home situations get way more complicated.

In such times, many businesses struggle to reassure and support their customers. Explaining and providing their differentiated value can be even harder.

Senior executives of consumer businesses need to take marketing off autopilot and pursue four imperatives during this period.

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Macro Surveillance Platform

For more detail on the business implications of coronavirus from Bain’s Macro Trends Group, log on to the Macro Surveillance Platform. Learn more about the platform >

1. Connect with your customers and their needs

Stem the threat

  • Know who you are and why customers turn to you.
  • Make simple changes to reduce their risk and anxiety, and strengthen affiliation. For example, opening hours, customer service, and product or service upgrades can be quickly adjusted.
  • Communicate to reinforce these messages, and let your digital community spread the word.
  • If you’re not reinforcing these messages, don’t say anything.

Go on offense

  • Expand on your value proposition to adjust to your customers’ needs.
  • Create hope and fun where appropriate, as consumers begin to get fearful, bored or restless.
  • Contribute to your customers’ well-being: People will remember a selfless act during a time of crisis.

2. Keep your revenue healthy

Stem the threat

  • Convert all the latent demand you see into sales, and experiment to foster more growth.
  • Don’t rely on your marketing mix model. Examine real-time data, find the bottlenecks, and de-average the data for promising ideas.
  • Divert spending to television and mobile campaigns, because consumption of those channels is rising with more consumers hunkered down.
  • Turn off any marketing activity that’s on autopilot. Continuously review spending patterns and messaging.
  • Consider the context of each local market when evaluating campaigns. Although the pandemic reaches globally, its effects play out locally.

Go on offense

  • Adapt to temporary changes in customer behavior.
  • Radically rethink your spending allocation process across categories, channels and tactics.
  • Improve test-and-learn capabilities, in order to react and scale up quickly.

3. Take out costs while reinvesting in customers

Stem the threat

  • Do a fast audit of spending areas, and turn off anything that’s now redundant.
  • Avoid cutting into muscle, by understanding what is working and what is not with your most important segments.
  • Ease back on wild-card or lower return-on-investment efforts to free funds for reinvestment elsewhere.
  • Optimize “nonworking” spending without jeopardizing the brand.

Go on offense

  • Transform traditional activities, such as in-person events, to a digital-first environment.
  • Double down on opportunities with key segments, stages of the funnel, or messaging.
  • Seize the opportunity to zero-base budgets, raising spending only if it has a proven high incremental ROI.
  • Ensure investment in critical innovation for the medium term.

4. Rethink your operating model

Stem the threat

  • Make Agile ways of working more prominent, with employees and agencies.
  • Now that teams have dispersed, provide clear decision-making roles, especially across channels and agencies.
  • Maintain ownership of data, models and insights, as well as the customer relationship.

Go on offense

  • Break down silos between all marketing activities, to speed up decision making and create more transparency for every marketing investment.
  • Reassess and prioritize external partnerships, and accelerate new capabilities in-house.
  • Accelerate development of capabilities focused on evolving the media and channel mix, on activating broader ecosystem, and on testing and analytics.
Related Insights

Coronavirus

As the global pandemic deepens and the human cost of Covid-19 rises, the novel coronavirus outbreak is sending shocks through the world economy. But across industries, companies can take action now to protect their employees and customers and minimize the economic damage.

Andreas Dullweber is a partner and Beth Myers is a manager with Bain’s Customer Strategy & Marketing practice. Andreas also leads Bain’s consumer and marketing excellence work globally. They’re based, respectively, in Munich and Seattle.

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