'Brands that embrace digital, purpose and agile are well positioned'

26 October 2020 Consultancy-me.com

A new international Deloitte report has spelled out how changing consumer behaviour amid the Covid-19 pandemic is impacting branding and marketing strategies, and what marketers can do to cater to these developments. 

Based on the views of nearly 2,500 consumers globally, including people in the Middle East, Deloitte identified a number of clear shifts in consumers perception, purchasing behaviour and loyalty. For one, “customer have upped their expectations from brands,” explained Shakeel Sawar, a Partner at Deloitte in the Middle East. 

Heightened expectations in the most cases relate to digital channels. To limit the possibility of being infected with Covid-19, consumers are flocking to the web and their smartphones to buy products and services. A recent study by Kearney spelled out just how profound this shift has been. 

Awareness of brands positively responding to COVID-19

At the start of this year, Kearney predicted that GCC e-commerce would reach a value of over $21 billion by the end of 2020. Now, these figures have been revised to $24 billion – marking a $2 billion plus contribution from Covid-19 alone. Understandably, companies that have failed to offer a digital customer journey and an ecommerce environment are losing ground to mature digital players. 

Further reading: Middle East consumer behaviour changing and shifting online

Covid-19 has also heightened customers’ appreciation of digital offerings of brands, with 66% agreeing that the pandemic has increased their appreciation for well-designed technologies. Meanwhile, 63% agreed they would continue to use digital technologies more often well after the pandemic subsides. For marketers, many are now well aware that they should possess the operational agility to swiftly navigate an increasingly digital world.

Consumer sentiment change toward digital technologies due to COVID-19

Purpose

Upped expectations go beyond the convenience of buying. More than ever, consumers are placing scrutiny on the purpose of companies and to what extent they bring this to practice, against a backdrop of an overall shift towards more eye for the private sector’s role in the realisation of sustainable development goals and social advancement. 

Illustrating this, most notably, almost 4 in 5 people surveyed by Deloitte could cite a time a brand responded positively to the pandemic and 1 in 5 strongly agreed it led to increased brand loyalty on their part. And, positive brand actions have led to 1 in 5 people in the Middle East shifting buying behaviour to support brands, while negative brand actions have led to 1 in 4 people walking away from brands that acted in their own self-interest. 

The customer funnel from awareness to purchase behavior

As a result, companies that are succeeding in the current uncertain and changing landscape are “typically those acting with transparency and clear intention, rooted in trust and the human experience, while also reacting in real time with the agility to meet the rapidly-evolving needs of their core consumer,” said Sawar.

For marketers, the change at the outset means that it requires them to redesign how they target, connect with and serve their customers. Five key principles that should be at the core of their post-Covid-19 strategies are purpose, agility in operations, digital-first, a client-centric design, and trust, recommended the Deloitte report. 

Further reading: Top CEO priorities: Digital, talent, ESG and business purpose.


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