How to Reach Consumers Stuck at Home
From class cancellations to travel restrictions, the COVID-19 outbreak has changed the way society functions. These times also present an unprecedented challenge for marketers, who want to provide goods and services to consumers who are stuck at home. A flexible campaign strategy and willingness to adapt to change can help your brand stay afloat throughout the pandemic. Discover how IZEA’s research on COVID-19’s impact on consumer behavior can help guide your decision-making.
Know Which Platforms to Focus On
IZEA surveyed 949 U.S.-based internet users. This study reveals that 66% of social media users expect to spend more time on social media platforms during the coronavirus outbreak. Many consumers are confined to their homes; these platforms offer ways for them to stay connected with friends, family and even their favorite brands.
Marketers should note that not every social media platform will see the same rise in use. So, depending on your budget and target audience, it might be best to shift some of your campaigning efforts and resources to a different platform. Find out where your target audience is spending more of their time, and adjust your campaign to suit that platform.
Sixty-four percent of social media users expect to spend more time on YouTube, and 63% say they’ll spend more time on Facebook. Instagram comes in at third place; 43% of individuals surveyed said they’ll use the image-sharing site more often. Even before the Coronavirus outbreak, these three platforms had impressively high numbers of active users — with Facebook being the largest network in the world. To reach consumers who are stuck at home, focus your efforts on at least one of these sites.
Surveyed consumers also expect to use Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, blogs, LinkedIn, TikTok, and Twitch more often. However, the increase in usage on these platforms will not match that of Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.
Know Who’s Buying What
When under financial stress, most consumers will be more selective about how they spend their money. A brand should run marketing campaigns for any of its products and services that remain in high demand. But what are people still buying in a pandemic?
Grocery store items are still in high demand. Ninety-two percent of surveyed individuals say they likely or may purchase these items. Restaurant food delivery is also near the top of the list; 71% of individuals will likely or may spend money on this type of service. This puts grocers and restaurants in a better position than many other businesses. If you’re marketing for a food brand, for example, emphasize the convenience of your delivery services and be clear about what safety measures you’re taking.
Media, games and entertainment items will remain popular, especially in households in which children are home from school. In your marketing, emphasize how these items can encourage family bonding, reduce stress and serve as a cure for boredom. If you can do so authentically, position these products as educational — a potential help for parents who are now homeschooling.
Clothing and Personal Products
Fashion and beauty brands may want to adopt messaging that puts emphasis on the future utility of their products. Consumers may be confined to their homes at the moment, but one day they’ll need stylish items to wear in public again. Help followers envision that post-pandemic world. Another approach is to emphasize the importance of self-care and upkeep, even when social opportunities are limited to video chatting.
Some consumers hesitate to purchase clothing items without being able to first try the items on. With that in mind, fashion brands should highlight their return policies.
Certain industries will need to work harder than others to sell their products. More than half of individuals surveyed by IZEA said they’re unlikely to purchase or will not purchase home electronics, computers, or tech items. The same goes for home improvement and DIY supplies and home fitness gear. Brands in these industries should consider focusing their outreach efforts on more narrowly defined target audiences who are likely to buy.
During this crisis, consumers with young children or teens at home are more likely to purchase home improvement and DIY supplies than consumers without children. Messaging and overall content should change to appeal to that audience. DIY influencers who specialize in kid-friendly projects can be especially useful, as many parents are looking for activities to keep kids busy.
Men are more likely to purchase electronics and fitness gear while confined at home. This doesn’t mean marketers in these niches should neglect women consumers. But they should keep in mind that men are more likely to make purchases at the moment. Shift your expectations and messaging accordingly for the time being.
Travel brands are likely expecting a sharp but temporary decline in requests and should highlight the benefits of booking future vacations. Frequent travelers (those who travel five or more times per year) are 77% more likely to book future vacations while stuck at home. While some travelers may be looking for discounts, business travelers are less likely to require them.
Regardless of your industry, most consumers will appreciate discounts, so offer digital coupons via email and influencer campaigns. Also start to prepare email blasts that you can send out after the crisis subsides. Brick-and-mortar businesses will want to notify customers when their doors are open and explain changes in shopping protocol — such as mask and social-distancing requirements.
Focus on Content Value and Empathetic Tone
With unemployment numbers and public stress on the rise, brands should consider adopting a more compassionate tone. Many consumers may simply not be in a place to make purchases, but you can still foster brand loyalty with the right messaging. These types of campaigns may not bring in immediate sales, but consumers will remember your efforts once the crisis is over.
Here are some suggestions on how to address the needs of consumers outside of your typical products and services:
Foster a Virtual Community
Give your followers content that invites engagement. Start a hashtag for your audience to share their quarantine fashion or baking creations. You can even turn these into contests and reward the participants. Use polls to encourage your followers to share opinions on products or industry-related developments. Host live-stream events, if possible, on platforms like Instagram.
Offer Self-Care Reminders
An IZEA survey on consumer wellness suggests that 32% of consumers are experiencing a decline in mental health during this trying period. Use your platform to remind the public that self-care is essential during tough times. Brands in the food, fitness, beauty, and wellness niches will likely excel at this and can even tie their messaging to their products. However, given the circumstances, any brand can take the time to share a message that encourages mental health awareness and promotes positivity.
Local governments and health organizations work hard to keep the public informed of the quickly changing situation. Consider amplifying these messages on social media — especially information that pertains to local business regulations. If masks are required for in-store visitors, share the message and reference or link to the government account that originally posted it. This shows that you care for customer well-being and are well-informed.
Reconsider How You Measure Success
While there are still many ways to reach consumers, it might be necessary to adjust expectations and rethink the ways in which you’re measuring success. A low number of sales doesn’t necessarily indicate a failed campaign. You might simply be reaching an audience that’s working on a tight budget.
Look at engagement numbers instead. Are people still sharing your content? Are they liking posts and responding with comments? If so, you’re likely on the right track.