01 / Article

Strategy reset: Putting an end to the way it’s always been done

Erin Doland
Erin Doland
8 min read

It seems foolish to state what is so obvious at this stage of the pandemic, but COVID really has changed the way your department and company does business. Out of sheer necessity, you’ve had to abandon the “way it’s always been done" to survive. Change is difficult, and you should be commended for your flexibility, agility, and creativity since March.

Now that we’re almost six months into the pandemic, decent statistical and trends analyses are emerging on what has changed in the market and what will likely continue for the foreseeable future. We collected seven industry insights that have intrigued us recently, that can help you continue to move forward. They’re not all going to be home runs for you, but maybe they’ll spark an idea or two as you reset your strategies.

An illustration of three incandescent light bulbs

Outdoor adventures are replacing other forms of vacations and entertainment

From Comscore, "Consumers Flock to Sports & Outdoor Website Categories":

…sites like DicksSportingGoods, Academy, Cabellas, BassPro, and CampingWorld collectively saw year-on-year visit growth of 71 percent for April 2020 and 86 percent growth in May 2020. Clearly, consumers are shifting their discretionary spending away from typical summer travel to things like camping and other family-oriented outdoor activities.”

Our advice: If you’re not in the travel or outdoor recreation industries, this information might seem irrelevant—but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Since featuring images for your products with people in boardrooms or gathered in groups is no longer an option, reconsider how your products are featured. In your imaging, do what you can to reflect this rekindled sense of outdoor adventure. Do people in photos on your site look like they’re headed to an office, a dinner party, or bar they can’t go to, or are they ready for a hike or camping trip? Look at the colors you’re using with your brand and shift to the ones in your palette that reflect nature and the outdoors.

Work-from-home is here to stay

From The Washington Post, "REI plans sale of unused eight-acre headquarters campus as the retailer embraces remote work":

“The retailer, which announced it was building [an] outdoor-friendly campus in 2016 and began construction in 2018, said in a statement that its headquarters would ultimately be made up of multiple ‘satellite’ locations across the Seattle area and that it would ‘lean into remote working as an engrained, supported and normalized model’ that could also allow employees to work outside the region.”

According to Nielsen’s Total Audience Report: Work from Home Edition:

"two-thirds (66%) of U.S. remote workers reported to have started working from home since the coronavirus outbreak, an incredibly massive migration of people into an alternate work setting. “

Our advice: With major employers (Google, Facebook, and more) announcing they will have work-from-home models indefinitely for many of their employees, it’s going to become a more standardized reality across the workforce. Even if your company plans to have all employees back in the office, you’ll have to expect this isn’t necessarily the case for your vendors, contractors, talent you are looking to hire, and certainly your customers. It’s best to start assuming everyone you do business with will have some employees working remotely. Now is the time to throw out those hastily drafted procedures and put long-lasting work-from-home policies in place and upgrade equipment for working with people who are in remote environments.

Local, local, local

From The New Republic, "The Unequal Future of Consumption":

…the pandemic has given a new lease on life to independent local stores. When it comes to food, especially, online delivery systems were unable to satisfy all the orders coming their way. Corner stores proved more flexible and stepped into the breach. In France, in early April, online sales of food were up by 98 percent—but next came rural shops (37 percent) and urban mini-marts (superettes; 25 percent), while the big hypermarkets saw a fall of 3 percent. If you really want flour, yeast, or eggs, best try your luck in your neighborhood store. Small farm shops, dairies, butchers, and many others enjoyed a renaissance in many parts of the world. As with culture and entertainment, we may be seeing a new emerging symbiosis between the big platform providers such as Amazon and lots of small, flexible shops—diffusion matched with decentralization.”

Our advice: Segment your communications with customers based on their geolocation to remind them you’re right where they need you—close to home.

Invest in eCommerce, specifically mCommerce

From Mobile Marketer, "Consumers favor smartphones for back-to-school shopping, study finds"":

“More than half (59%) of U.S. consumers plan to use their smartphones for back-to-school shopping this year, making mobile devices more popular than personal computers (26%) and tablets (15%), a new study by mobile advertising company AdColony found. Fifty-five percent of people said they purchased something directly on a mobile device after seeing an ad, while 76% would buy something if the ad were relevant.”

Continuing insights from Advanced Television, "Analyst: 1.6 trillion hours spent on mobiles in H1":

“App Annie, a specialist in mobile data and analytics, has released its latest report which shows that consumers spent 1.6 trillion hours on their mobile devices in the first half of 2020.”

“The average user spent 27 per cent of daily waking hours, or 4.3 hours, on their mobile device in April 2020—up 20 per cent from 2019”

“M-commerce boomed in H1 2020, surpassing 2019 holiday shopping levels—propelling the mobile shopping industry forward by years”

Our advice: Invest in your eCommerce and mCommerce systems now, especially if they need some love and attention. This sector is booming and will continue to do so as consumers have already become comfortable with mCommerce.

Focus on multiplatform digital advertising

From Nielsen, "Balancing Act: With More Time at Home, Work Days and Media Habits Merge"

“More time at home for consumers means more exposure to the wide array of content and ads available in an exceedingly more digital world. And the longer Americans work from home—regardless of whether by choice or not—the greater the likelihood that their recently developed media habits will stick around, ultimately changing the playing field for how publishers and advertisers are able to engage with audiences. “

Then, from Mobile Marketer, "Mobile ad spend jumps 71% amid pandemic recovery":

“Mobile advertising spend surged by 71% worldwide in the second quarter from a year earlier as marketers sought to reach consumers who spent more time on their smartphones during pandemic lockdowns. Q2 ad spend on mobile devices was 8% higher than in Q1, per a study by sell-side platform Pubmatic.”

“While mobile advertising fell after the outset of the coronavirus pandemic in March, it recovered more quickly than desktop advertising, which grew by 2% between Feb. 26 and June 24 on private marketplaces (PMPs). In-app ad spend soared 391% during the period, outpacing the strong 52% gain for the mobile web.”

Our advice: Your company has likely freed up some advertising dollars in the last month or so, and it’s time to have those dollars be productive. Spend where the people are, and right now, they’re on digital, specifically mobile (and probably will continue to be).

Loyalty programs are still worthwhile

From Forbes, "Why Some Restaurant Chains are Ramping Up Their Loyalty Programs During This Crisis":

“’When we think about loyalty, it’s not just the program. We’re thinking about the customer behind the scenes, the insights about those customers. Loyalty can give you insights across all channels about who your most valuable customers are and their patterns. If you’re a brand that delivers breakfast for example, then you know during this time, breakfast has been hit hard and customers are shifting their spending. A loyalty program provides insights as to where that shift is taking place and allows a brand to adjust accordingly,’ said Sastry Penumarthy, co-founder and VP of strategy of loyalty platform Punchh.”

Our advice: Loyalty program participation might be showing reductions in numbers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t garner valuable insights about those who are buying from you during this time. Your most loyal customers are typically your most profitable over the long term. Pay attention and learn from them.

Cutting marketing budgets hurts profits

From Customer Think, "Arbitrary Cost Cutting is Dangerous":

“Getting and retaining business costs money, but when profits are squeezed, there is always a pressure to cut costs, and then the budget for marketing is often one of the earliest targets. This is because chief executive officers and their financial chiefs, often do not have a full understanding of what is involved in getting and retaining business, and unfortunately, too many marketers still do not provide quantifiable evidence that defines their contribution to revenue generation.”

“While considering cutting some parts of the marketing budget for economic reasons, it may also be advantageous to increase spending in other parts, in order to compete more effectively. Investing more in customer relations may be necessary to maintain customer retention. More investment may be needed in marketing research in order to fully understand the change requirements of customers who are also affected by the recession. Is the customer being given a relevant message via a media suitable for the recipient? If not, additional investment may be necessary.”

Our advice: It’s tempting to restrict marketing budgets through the end of the year, but if you do, make sure you’re doing it in a way that’s not going to significantly hinder your profits. Research is showing that funding your effective marketing efforts has real payoffs for profits right now—don’t put that at risk.