Innovation is the backbone of the new normal


Following the initial ‘shock and awe’ of COVID-19, companies and consumers are striving to adjust to the ‘new normal’, and some of the changes taking place now may be permanent additions to the marketer’s working life.

Many firms had to close down their physical stores, refine their supply chains and endorse social distancing measures – it’s been business unusual. On the other hand, consumers have had to deal with unparalleled uncertainty and anxiety, blurred boundaries between their work and private lives, reshaped social interactions away from loved ones.

So, with work and life almost completely unrecognisable from conventional times how is this new reality transforming the marketing landscape? Innovation is a key element that has influenced the marketing industry during COVID-19.

Crisis is a fertile ground for innovation. The ‘fittest’ are adapting their marketing strategy and tactics to adjust to the ‘new normal’. We have witnessed several retailers changing their business models, revising their product offerings, and adapting their distribution channels as a response to the pandemic; this ranges from something as simple as contact-free delivery options to global firms pivoting production to PPE and hand sanitiser.

Also restaurants have transformed into takeaways within the course of a few days. Bricks and mortar traders are now rivalling e-commerce sellers on shipping times. New online retailers have been created.

We are witnessing waves of ‘creative destruction’ –marketing strategies must be revised, and marketing tactics must be sharpened so that businesses are not left behind.

Digital payment systems, as well, have proved reliable in this pandemic, as they have in crises of the past. The decision to increase the contactless payment limit is evidence of wider trust in their security and reliability, putting paid to the traditional view that cash is king.

Sellers that do not have access to digital payments have been losing out, as remote buying now prevails. This is clearly the time for companies to rethink their payment systems, so that customers, regardless of finances and education will have access to their products.

Enhancing affordability – both economic and psychological – has been a key marketing concern during the COVID-19 crisis. How that plays out in the long-term is yet to be seen, but the marketing department must now go beyond creating demand into creating the environment for that demand to be fulfilled.

>>>The writer is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketers (ACIM). He is also a Marketing/Digital Marketing Consultant. He can be reached on 0548763250 and or [email protected]

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