I love a good cliché – from ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ to ‘killing two birds with one stone’. My new favourite is ‘the new normal’.
From small businesses to large corporations, no business has been immune to COVID-19. As things have developed, the conversations we have seen and been a part of are centring around how business will get going again. How do we bring back employees the right way? How and when should we engage our customers?
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses to adapt very quickly – ready or not – into this new normal and the way to survive this new normal is to know how it has affected your customers.
Indeed, the customers you knew just two months ago are not the same people today. Normal preferences have shifted as customers exercise caution about where, what and how they make their purchases. We have already seen the tremendous impact on retailers and consumer goods companies.
Jacaranda FM and East Coast Radio conducted a Consumer behavior survey recently and from the 7 000-people surveyed, 76% said it would take them at least three to six months to recover from the COVID-19 lockdown, with 92% stating they were expecting drastic changes to their spending habits over the next six months.
Market research is an essential ingredient in any successful brand strategy. What are your customers really thinking and are you agile enough to respond to their needs? While lockdown has had a massive impact on the economy, brands should not be pulling back their research and marketing budgets right now. Research will help brands uncover people’s media habits, attitudes and expectations. This can guide the strategy in order to remain afloat now and to bounce back once the worst has passed. Brands should continue advertising for the long-term.
Retail and consumer brands will need to rethink their customer experience and find ways to deliver on customer preferences and needs through a combination of channels. Retailers reliant on traditional customer footfall to deliver their experience will be challenged to compete in this new normal.
Brand perception surveys and consumer insights help you understand how your brand is perceived in the mind of customers, clients, employees and other stakeholders. I’m not telling you that you should go out and conduct surveys every single day, but there are some key situations where qualitative data makes a difference.
East Coast Radio changed its daytime lineup times to accommodate the new normal for its audience. This decision was based on research. What consumers want brands to do during the crisis is help them.
Many companies are shifting to digital marketing strategies, yet amid the various media options consumers have to choose from, such as streaming, social media platforms and Smart TVs, a recent Nielsen survey found that 83% of consumers say they’re listening to as much or more radio as they were before the pandemic. A study by the UK’s industry body for commercial radio found that radio has great influence on happiness. Radio is also considered as one of the most trusted mediums for information.
In another East Coast Radio and Jacaranda FM survey, it was clear that now, more than ever, advertisers have such a captive audience, with millions at home, tuned into media for information. Radio is effectively the original social medium, and the one that our audience turn to for verified info:
- 57% of respondents rely on radio for retail ads
- 76% of the respondents would like to hear sales/promotions adverts on radio from their favorite brands
- 90% of the respondents are likely to listen to more radio right now for news, entertainment and information.
- 32% of the ECR “listening more” audience are tuning in for six hours or more.
Our latest retail survey shows groceries, clothing and toiletries top the most purchased items list. While many brands have pulled marketing activity, advertisers in categories such as grocery retail must continue to maintain share of voice.
Whether it’s for local news, a place to listen to what is happening, to connect with community members or simply as a way to find out which essential retailers are open for business, radio is continuing to fill those needs for consumers everywhere during this time. This information can guide advertiser messaging and assist in building a closer connection with the audience.
The massive disruption across the globe, courtesy of COVID-19, has left an indelible mark on customers. As South Africa enters level 3 of the lockdown, keep marketing your brand. Use insights to guide your messaging and connect with consumers where they are.
Charis Apelgren-Coleman is the market engagement manager at Kagiso Media Radio. She has worked with small and large local organisations as well as large multinational organisations, while managing specialist content teams.
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