It’s taken less than a month of Covid-19 lockdown for the world to become enlightened and embracing of the power, connectivity and value of digital communications. An overnight sensation, 20 years in the making!
What will it mean for brands, companies, brands and consumers in the longer term though?
We’ve had digital coursing through our veins at AVB since 1999.
Some of us for even longer, having been working in the embryonic world of the ‘new fangled’ internet elsewhere. Now, there are many in our team that could even be described as digital from birth.
For quite some time then, we’ve been introducing, guiding, educating, sometimes convincing and occasionally even challenging clients to ‘do digital’. Showing its cost effectiveness and targeting abilities, its capacity to evolve in an ever-changing media landscape and adapt to rapidly changing consumer behaviour.
We’ve recommended its measurability for years, and whilst a majority of marketers and consumers are bought in to the power of digital communications, even those who were reticent or unconvinced of its appropriateness for them or their audience – have switched on overnight.
For very necessary and serious reasons we have become digital beings, living intensely digital lives and ‘things’, as we hear on repeat, ‘will never be the same again’. There is no mistaking that digital was already on a continuous upward trajectory but this is a whole new level. It’s no longer a lifestyle choice or a realm for the social media generation, it’s now facilitating parts of our daily lives that we never even contemplated.
Everyone, young and old have had to upskill and fundamentally change their everyday behaviour. Whole companies [including our own] are working from home – and making it work. Children are being educated online. People have changed their shopping and consumption habits making a meal of it at home, cooking from scratch and searching recipes ideas to use every last leftover. Families and friends are connecting on previously little known platforms like Zoom and House Party, from Friday night drinks to Sunday evening quizzes – and in the process more people than ever are learning how to download, upload and the importance of video call etiquette (hit the mute button already!).
So, what does this mean? Whether we wanted it or not lots of us have been given the gift of time, a recent YouGov poll for the RSA’s Food Farming and Countryside Commission states that only 9% of people want things to return to the way they were pre-lockdown.
Whilst it’s unlikely that anyone wants the current extreme distancing circumstances, lack of physical human contact to continue or to become cyborgs for that matter, maybe we do want to hold on to some more of our time.
Enforced or not, more of us now have the know-how, the wherewithal and confidence to do so much more from home to do the things that have brought us much joy over the past month, through digital means.
Brands that have stayed true to themselves in the new 'new normal' will be the ones who truly connect now - and keep connecting.
Back to the beginning then. Never in the last 20 years have we seen a quicker, more definitive, positive and likely long-lasting shift into the digital space. The world is switched on in more ways than one, and at the other side people will have reassessed what really matters. Let’s hope we hang on to the good bits. What will definitely remain is our willingness to transact, work, learn, browse, communicate, experience and engage online as well as embrace the physical world with a newfound appreciation.
Even now we can see that how brands react to and learn from lockdown, how they go on to adapt their marketing strategies in terms of messaging and media in the short to medium term, will be essential for their sustainability and relevance in the long term.
Many, many brands have already responded quickly, empathetically, and … identically. Not completely true to their brand values perhaps, reactionary maybe, but you could opine that at least they’ve been agile, acknowledging their valuable customers’ worlds have changed.
But the brands and companies that have actually stayed true to themselves with their comms, the brave ones who are rethinking their content strategies entirely for the new ‘new normal’ of our amplified and enduring digital lives, will be the ones who truly connect now – and keep connecting.
So, spending some of your own new found time thinking and planning internally, or collaborating with your agency on how your company or brand is going to fit right now and in the very digital future, will be time very well spent.