With nearly any product or service available at the click of a finger, technology has evolved our daily lives. How brands harness this connectivity is up to them. With the recent pandemic, the world is undergoing radical change. Still, adaptability is key in moments like this, and which brands thrive and which suffer the most can often be determined by how willing to change these leaders were.
Through the availability and intuition of technology, brands are being forced to update their marketing plans, and even their business model, to centre around it. Business has become a real-time experience in the past decade, and as consumers, we deal with a relentless stream of messages and communications, but how can (and have) businesses use this to their advantage and work with this feeling of connectivity?
Throughout the current pandemic, the perception of connectivity is different. Before, brands thought it was necessary to be visible at every touchpoint. On billboards along the highway, targeted ads on Instagram, consumers need to be seeing you everywhere. Now it is much more meaningful than that, brands have to focus on being in impactful places, and many have succeeded. For example, Marc Jacobs and Valentino know exactly where to find their audience and how to engage them and did so through designing outfits just for Nintendo’s top-selling game in decades – Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Similarly, American breakfast diner chain, Denny’s, has made characters in this and other trending games such as Call of Duty: Warzone, and has been interacting with other players (also potential customers) handing out in-game perks and real-life restaurant discounts. Even when looking at personal brands, rap artist Travis Scott is a great example of jumping on this consumer shift towards gaming by throwing a virtual concert in the realm of Fortnite.
These tactics, however, are much more focused on marketing in the short term, jumping on pandemic-led trends to boost brand love now. Other brands have taken an extremely effective approach of shifting the way they do business at the foundation. For example, Saudi fashion brand Leem noticed it’s regional customers were spending a lot more time on WhatsApp staying connected with friends and family. While stores were closed (or just sparsely visited), the brand shifted to placing WhatsApp orders using their catalogue in the absence of an e-commerce platform. This kind of change is sustainable that will likely last beyond the lockdown if proven successful.
With every success story, however, comes one of struggle. Some businesses are struggling to adapt and keep up with this ultra-connected time we’re living in. A prime example of this is in the banking sector. With branches closed, call centres shut, and bots only able to help with entry-level issues, customers globally are struggling to get service around their financial needs. Banks haven’t changed the way people can reach them and are, therefore losing customer trust at such a critical time. Another example can be seen in retailers. Shops that didn’t update their returns policies or adapt their shipping procedures to accommodate the new global requirements are ones that are losing orders and customers not only now but in the long term. Banks, retailers or otherwise – the brands that didn’t adapt are the ones that are doing it wrong.
For some companies, this digital transformation may be seen as a costly and unnecessary commitment. And while there’s no doubt that the process takes time, investment and patience, ultimately, it’s the businesses that adapt and adopt that are reaping the rewards in today’s business landscape. In other words, going digital isn’t really an option. It’s a necessity.