Signs of economic recovery are everywhere. Over the previous month, the US created more than 900,000 jobs. In February, The Economist found the number of people eating out at restaurants was 48% below normal. Now, we are at an astonishing 18% below normal. According to consumer tracker Cardify, spending was up by nearly 20% by late March compared to the previous month, and economists at the IMF estimate the country is set to reach up to 6% GDP growth by the end of the year.
Marketers are making critical decisions that will steer their brands through an unprecedented economic boom — but the shadow of COVID-19 still looms over the economy. Despite the mobilization of marketing dollars to reach consumers eager to spend savings accumulated during the pandemic, a set of challenging conditions is complicating planning for the future.
Marketing strategies can suffer without accounting for these lingering issues and by focusing too much on short-term recovery. Here’s what’s going on, and how you can adapt your marketing strategy to ensure your brand thrives with resilience at this important time.
THE UNCERTAIN VARIABLES
Consumers are uncertain about the future. Shaken by the events of the past year, they don’t expect the going to be easy, and want to be prepared. CNN reports Americans are saving, rather than spending, 42% of their stimulus money.
Historically, pandemics have also led to political upheaval. Rising economic inequality revealed and exacerbated by the pandemic could lead to social unrest, and a difficult reckoning with issues sidelined by COVID-19.
Furthermore, new variants of the virus and undersupplied vaccination campaigns around the world threaten to prolong the pandemic.
These concerns should give pause to marketers. They are reminders that despite an economic boom, strategies should continue emphasizing brand resilience in order to prepare for anything that might lie ahead. Brownstein’s research on Brand Longevity with The Harris Poll provides three actionable strategies that can work to build brand resilience at this uncertain moment:
FOCUS ON RELIABILITY
While developing products and services to meet altered consumer behaviors is wise, brands need to prioritize building or maintaining a reputation for reliability first. Reliability is a top-ranked attribute for brand longevity, ensuring customers trust and return to brands no matter the circumstances.
CREATIVELY MAINTAIN RELEVANCE
Use creativity and advertising to reinterpret the legacy of your brand in order to remain relevant in the post COVID-19 marketplace. Brands that can be proud of their past accomplishments, while ensuring they remain relevant to changing consumer attitudes, are ranked highest according to both marketers and consumers in our research study.
INVEST IN SOCIAL MEDIA
Continue investing in social media. Our study shows this is a top area of focus for marketers around the country, and for good reason: our lockdown economy forced us to use these platforms to stay connected, and they will remain a big part of our lives in the future.
With these first steps in place, your brand will have the foundation it needs to continue to reinterpret changing circumstances throughout the year — thriving when times are good, and staying strong through difficult times should they arise. For more insights on Brand Longevity, and to learn how to orient marketing strategies towards brand resilience, read our full report here.