The COVID-19 pandemic has abruptly altered consumers’ behaviors and attitudes, toppling brands’ marketing strategies and plans. Now, roughly two years into the pandemic in Ghana, we’re just beginning to gain a better understanding of the impact of these changes in the short and long term, and just how brands must adapt to the ‘new normal’.
Most marketers have torn up their best-laid plans and gained a far deeper understanding of what it means to adapt. Globally, we have seen massive shifts in buying behavior and the Ghanaian consumer has not been exempt from these changes.
Post lockdown, most brands have activated new ways of thinking and are being more resilient and innovative in order to be profitable, how to sensitize people and show empathy during these trying times to their consumers. This article will look at three keyways, marketers have adapted their marketing strategy and marketing mix to suit the new reality.
The rise of Influencer Marketing
The media landscape of Ghana has been dominated by traditional media for decades, with television and radio leading the pack. The pandemic really shook this up, as we saw the unprecedented rise in social media use.
Because people were staying at home, screen time went up dramatically. People wanted to stay connected and there was no better way to stay updated than on social media. For businesses that were not used to utilizing social media, they had to become agile and learn quickly about social media. For businesses that already had social media marketing as a key part of the media mix, they had to reinvent the way they used the various social media platforms.
Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok had to be used by marketers to connect with the consumer. This led to the rise of influencer marketing at an unprecedented pace. Marketers in Ghana are valuing influencers like never before. Collaborations with creators became very strategic. With brick-and mortar retail shut and physical events cancelled at a point, marketers had to reinvent how to reach consumers. One of the key channels became e-commerce, but for e-commerce to be successful, you needed to drive traffic to these sites!
Brands realized they have to use influencers strategically to cut through the noise and influence audiences. To gain competitive advantage is to learn faster and better than competitors. For the marketer to be successful in optimizing influencers, they must have clarity on the points below:
- Who is my consumer? Demographic data such as age and gender, are no longer the most important factors when determining your target market. Now, messages need to be more aligned with people’s situations and values.
- Who are the influencers who speak to your audience? Keep a data of influencers, follow them and monitor their content to ensure brand alignment.
- What is the correct mix and number of influencers to gain the reach and engagement needed to build awareness and conversion to sales. Beware of macro influencers with high reach but low engagement!
Brand investment in creators has been a key factor in driving digital purchasing decision. Influencers help consumers see the fit, function and styling of products in a relatable way through product demos and product placements. The brands have to give special discount codes to influencers to make evaluation of their impact in driving traffic/conversion easy to measure.
Viral challenges gave brands an opportunity for product placements in a fun way that didn’t feel like forced advertising to their audience. Brands didn’t just expand their reach, but they also boosted the authenticity of through these online challenges.
For example, the viral challenge- Don’t Rush, where a person got a makeup brush passed to them while they have a natural look and then completely glam up after momentarily covering up the camera with the brush. This challenge gave makeup brands like Maybelline New York an opportunity to show the brand’s ability to beautify and transform with its iconic brand offerings.
The last two years have highlighted the versality and power of influencers as a marketing mainstay.
Online shopping is here to stay
Physical distancing and stay-at-home customs have forced whole consumer segments to shop differently. The dramatic rise in the adoption of e-commerce sees no sign of abating. Social commerce, with the integration of social media platforms like Whatsapp in commerce has become integral to success in achieving turnover.
Marketers in Ghana especially during the lockdown had to relook at the route to market strategies with their sales business partners. Brands like Garnier Ghana had to partner with Jumia to execute an e-commerce only launch. With shops closed, marketers had to understand that the consumer wanted services such as home delivery, curbside pickup and convenient shopping via social media.
Jumia’s partnership with Garnier meant exclusive shop in shop experience for the customer, a page that provided communication assets, that not only educated the consumer but created a shopping experience that provided the customer with the whole skincare range in a single click!
E-commerce has come to stay, marketers must understand the offering that works on these platforms, from product range to discount offers. Without a solid digital marketing plan to drive traffic to these e-commerce platforms, the marketer will grapple with low conversion rates which will impact heavily on turnover.
- Build e-commerce functionality on your site, so customers can easily order your goods and services directly. The process must be easy, a cumbersome order process can lead to abandoned shopping carts.
- Make sure you offer quick, inexpensive delivery to online shoppers’, free delivery is an effective promo tool
- Implement an online chat tool so online buyers and browsers have a way to get their questions quickly answered
- Post a comprehensive online FAQ on your site, a short video demo on product use is a highly effective engagement tool.
More than ever, partnership with digital agencies and ecommerce platforms for the marketer, must result in learning analytics and understanding how to use these analytics to get real time results!
Authentically support your audience
The pandemic truly challenged brand loyalty. While quality, convenience, communication and pricing still matter to consumer choice, during the pandemic consumers observed how companies supported the community at large.
Your brand should stand behind great values. People have been highly impacted economically because of this pandemic. Consumers are looking for companies who are not just looking at turning a profit but are sensitive to the impact of the pandemic on the community. Marketers have the opportunity, to educate the C-Suite on the importance of brand values when it comes to differentiating your brand in a post-pandemic marketplace.
For marketers who deal with small businesses, it is an opportunity to show support through donations and education. For the Dark &Lovely brand, key partners like hairdressers were hit economically due to the lockdown. To demonstrate the brand value of professional partnership, the brand donated items to the various hairdressing associations, to show support and commandry during a difficult period.
Starbucks a coffee brand in the United States, concentrated on the financial side of the situation, and their role in donating food or money to those in sudden need. This kind of marketing defined COVID as a crisis of capital. If the problem is not enough cash, then wealthy corporations can swoop in as heroes by freeing some up quickly.
Then there were those, especially fashion and luxury brands, which focused on the emotional impact of the pandemic, and pointed to their products as ways to make the experience easier and even fun.
But there were risks attached to these messages, and not all of them landed well. Some ads seemed oblivious to the wider social problems that were making the crisis harder for some to bear. In uncertain times, marketers must work to fulfil the brand promise to the customers that they can rely on their favorite brands for support!
In conclusion as marketers, we are charged with a continued blend of art and science. These new marketing realities require an innovative confluence of strategies, operations, and technologies required to drive growth in a post-Covid-19 world. Adopting them represents the path to pandemic recovery and long-term success!
- OMD COVID-19 Response newsletter
>>>Adeline is Marketing Manager at L’Oreal West Africa in charge of Garnier. Maybelline New York and Dark & Lovely. For over ten years, she has built knowledge in brand building in beauty, food and education.
She is passionate about branding with experience working with big brands at Unilever, Olam and L’Oreal. She has keen interest in motivating young women to be their best in every endeavour. She has an MBA in Entrepreneurship and professional diploma in marketing. She is an author, with two academic books on marketing and research. Follow her on LinkedIn – www.linkedin.com/in/adeline-esi-asante-antwi-bsc-acim-mba-39089132/