In addition to following the health and economic impacts of COVID-19, we are considering the impacts to consumer behavior, specifically in the high-end home category. While this situation is unique, we have helped our clients weather some massive economic downturns from the post-9/11 economy in 2001 to the housing bubble burst of 2008. Below are just a few observations and insights based on more than three decades of growing leader brands through thick and thin, which includes coming out on the other side stronger and more resilient than ever.
How to communicate with consumers in uncertain times.
Given the rapidly changing situation, knowing when and how to communicate with customers and prospects will not always be clear. That’s something we have to accept as marketers right now. Our counsel: strike a calm, authentic tone that communicates we’re in this together.
Apply common sense and maintain authenticity. Astute marketers will seek to understand consumer sentiment while recognizing it will likely be all over the board for the time being – largely depending on their worldview, their individual situation, or the latest news alert flashing across their screen. These issues may very well go beyond your target audience’s demographics. Also, what your voice of the customer data told you last month or even last week may not be true today in this developing situation. Monitoring consumer sentiment and really understanding the motives underlining your best customer’s behavior will be key and very likely could be changing as we speak.
Consider whether you truly have something useful to say. It is also important to remember consumers are currently inundated with messaging from their bank, tourism affinity programs and a variety of service providers – never mind the litany of confusing and quickly changing information about the severity of the virus and the appropriate actions to take. And at some point, if not already, they will reach saturation. Make sure what you have to communicate provides real value and matters to your customer base. This, too, requires understanding them.
Be smart but not insensitive. In the near term, we expect savvy affluent consumers with available cash to recognize this as a good time to scoop up deals on luxury products they’ve long been considering and even take advantage of low interest rates. And, by all means, we hope they do. Right now, more of that is what the economy needs, which will benefit the greater good. But, that doesn’t mean a luxury automobile dealer advertising “come on down, our parking lot is empty” (true story) amidst a national debate over whether to self-quarantine is the right thing to do.
This lesson is particularly important for all franchise brands. Your franchisees and independent retailers could use some guidance on messaging and promotion now more than ever. Consider this popular Maya Angelou quote, I may not remember what you said, but I remember how you made me feel. Same is true for brand communications and thereby retail promotions in a tumultuous time. Consider how your message will land with your customers. Your future sales could depend on it.
We’ve collected a few examples below of brands that seemed to get it right – at least at the time the email was sent. Again, things are changing quickly, so what may be timely today could be seen as insensitive and opportunistic tomorrow. We’ll continue to collect and share what we’re seeing. Perhaps this will help you as you consider your next move. We are after all in this together.
Read the full Food52 email here.
You’re a marketing professional living in an unprecedented society-changing crisis. And despite all that, you have a 30-minute presentation to the C-suite to lay out your best near-term marketing approach. Where do you even begin? Ramey has decades of experience marketing high-end home brands through cataclysms like 2001’s post-9/11 economy and the 2008 housing bust. Recognizing this is a rapidly developing situation, here’s where our heads are at this moment.