Growing share during the COVID economy
Successfully Market During COVID
Surviving the COVID-19 depression
Survival is a worthy goal. But what about growing market share in the COVID economy? Is growing even possible? Napoleon once said, “the logical end to defensive warfare is surrender.” He has a point.
The economy is struggling, and many people are without jobs. As a result, many consumers are parting with the brands they loved for years. Because of this, many manufacturers have seen continuing drops in their revenue. Many of them are panicking. How can you successfully market during COVID?
Are you preparing for better times?
The big question is, when the economy picks up, will the consumer return to their legacy brand and leave the generic or cheaper product? It depends on how your brand performed before this slump. And how tenacious you have been in maintaining your brand loyalty during this time. But you should be afraid. Consumers have habits. Break a pattern, and it may never return.
With job cuts at record highs, consumers change their preferred brands based on price alone.
They choose the cheaper store brands over name brands. In times of economic stress, even when all is not equal, the price will be the deciding factor unless you genuinely have something that differentiates you from the pack.
To market successfully during COVID you need a brand message, a compelling reason for the consumer to remain loyal.
Market during COVID. Consider better messaging
The consumer is making hard choices during this depression. But not every big brand is losing to the cheaper store brands. Why is this?
Because, even during rough times (especially during these turbulent times), consumers’ desire to feel unique. And consumers look to a brand to achieve this. With the right message, they see themselves reflected in the brand and aspire toward what the brand itself represents.
In this context, how strong is your brand? Have you separated yourself from your competitors?
For example, a ketchup manufacturer can talk about great taste, quality ingredients, and price, but these are not what drive preference. They are “table skates,” something any ketchup manufacturer must have to be part of the category.
A brand message, meanwhile, that appeals to the beliefs of the target audience and provides an aspiration for them is what will drive preference – and even be able to get you through the harshest economic times.
What makes preference?
Preference comes from understanding what your customer covets. Have you positioned yourself in a way that reflects who they are and who they aspire to be? And more importantly, despite declining sales, are you continuing to get the right brand message across?
Everything is changing rapidly, and you must reevaluate your position and proposition. And you need to adapt quickly. It’s a cliché to say that tomorrow is gone and today was yesterday. But, because of the availability of personalized messages and social media, this is happening right in front of you.
Fix the real problem
This is how NOT to market during COVID. Just this week, the major US airlines announced they are eliminating change fees. I’m trying not to be sarcastic here, but give me a break. It’s no wonder no one loves airlines. Ok, a few love Southwest. But the rest of us feel trapped. Whoever owns the hub nearby has us trapped.
Sure, airlines have a brand problem. The government had to bail them out and pay to keep them afloat. But they have a fundamental problem with the business model. We have the hub system for airline profits, not to make air travel more comfortable.
Sometimes recessions illuminate more significant problems
The customers’ benefit is not why the airline model exists. Airlines designed the hub model to support a subsidized business. Airlines are doomed— if the US general population is no longer willing to subsidize private —for-profit companies.
A better brand message will not save them. A new advertising campaign won’t convince a single flyer that the airlines care. Airline brands are not aspirational. They are utilitarian.
If the goal of a powerful brand is to connect with the customer’s aspirations and personal identity, they must stop thinking of themselves is being transportation companies. When we look dispassionately at their business, we see that they are in the customer service business.
Why are they charging a change fee?
So, why should no change fees be a revelation? Have you ever arrived early on a connecting flight and found an earlier flight for your next leg? Then the counter staff says it costs $100 to change flights.
There are empty seats on the flight. It is heading to your destination, and they charge you a change fee. United, American, and Delta Airlines— welcome to the real world. Your business model though of us as SEATS. Nothing more. We never felt connected. We always felt used.
It’s time to worry that we have discovered, thanks to COVID, that we don’t have to travel as much to be productive. Sell your airline stock and buy ZOOM. Habits have changed, and we felt little sympathy for the plight of airlines.
Some good historical examples of growing market share
While the COVID economy sucks, protect your brand. Reassess your brand. Be prepared for better times. Make your brand about the customer and not about your product or company.
The end benefit actively describes the customer when they use it (remember “choosy mothers choose Jif,” then you have a perfect chance of the consumer rebounding to your brand.
In the case of Jif, don’t fool yourself into thinking that taste has anything to do with why Jif is the market leader. If Jif had been foolish enough to tout its brand as “tastes best,” it would be in trouble.
That’s because consumers forced to choose a generic brand will discover that the store brand tastes just as good the legacy brand. Don’t allow them to find out.
Marketing during COVID? Brands need more than product benefits
You cannot position a brand around table stakes such as taste, quality, etc. Consumers will find you out. Unfortunately, many companies have done just that with their brands. They failed to understand their consumers.
Jif unearthed that emotional nerve compelling many of us (knowing there is no real difference in peanut butter) to choose the Jif brand.
Hellmann’s is another example of a brand that promises the consumer something special. Again, financial circumstances force consumers to choose a generic brand. As a result, they lose out on that experience they feel with the Hellmann’s brand. Truth? All mayonnaise tastes the same.
It’s what they covet– that feeling – the mayonnaise of childhood. Something customers just don’t get from the generic brand.
Now is not the time to roll over. Does your brand appeal to your target audience or those you wish to influence?
Your message must be compelling enough to resonate with your consumer now more than ever. Call us. We can talk about your marketing problems.