How to appeal to new consumer behaviors

This content originally appeared July 30, 2020 as part of the Future of Marketing weekly email series. Subscribe here.

According to a study conducted by Ketchum, 45% of consumers have changed brand preferences during the pandemic – demonstrating that people are taking a closer look at the things they most value (and aren’t as loyal to your brand as you think). 

“We’ve aligned these evolutions in consumer behavior to specific personas. Based on how open they are to reengaging with the outside world and how much their values have changed during this phase of nonstop disruption, consumers can be divided into one of four types,” Ketchum shares.

From open-minded consumers to cautious questioners, every business faces the challenge to understand evolving personas – and identify what ads, budget, and standards should be considered to best communicate your value to each one.

Creative advertising

Burger King released a ‘Christmas in July’ commercial featuring customers admitting they are done with 2020 and are ready for happier times. In the ad, people are wearing face masks – demonstrating Burger King’s efforts to make the campaign feel relevant and relatable. “When ads have subtle mentions of masks, 48% of viewers expressed positive sentiment toward a brand,” shares Ace Matrix

As parents and students prepare for the Fall semester, Macy’s released a back-to-school ad featuring user-generated content. Macy’s ad agency, Major Behavior, asked its independent directors of photography to record footage of their children preparing for school, and produce the ad remotely.

Wait, is that really UGC!? ^^^ We thought the same thing. The beautiful quality is inspiring for what can be achieved.

“The end result are ads that are more professional-looking than the typical remote shoot, but authentic and representative of different learning setups parents are contending with, including homeschooling,” shares Peter Adams with Marketing Dive. 

It will take more than creative advertising to compete in a fast-changing environment. What are your customers going through? How can you engage and make your message more relatable to them? And as budgets tighten up, why should they purchase from you?

TikTok for retail

The amount of time U.S. users spend on TikTok surged 26% to an average of 14 hours and 18 minutes in March – revealing TikTok’s ability to engage its fans with viral content and incentivized challenges. “Since there’s no need to create an account or log in to view a video, the number of visitors can easily add up,” shares eMarketer.

To entice back-to-school shoppers, DSW debuted #TooManyShoes on TikTok, a challenge asking users to show off their shoes for a chance to win a closet full of shoes or a $500 gift card. So far, the hashtag has garnered 1.8 billion views on TikTok (and counting), significantly boosting brand awareness within the app’s young demographic.

American Eagle embraced a TikTok-inspired essence in a back-to-school commercial shot and produced via Zoom. With back-to-school advertising down almost 50% in July compared to 2019, Eric Belcher, CEO of Numerator shared, “two-thirds of consumers report they still don’t know if their kids will be in live or virtual classrooms.” 

While retailers figure out their next move (especially with TikTok’s uncertain future), sales for electronics and disinfecting supplies will likely surge as families prepare for an interesting school year. And with more consumers relying on digital platforms for information, retailers will focus on television, social media, and user-generated advertising to maximize budgets.

  • For our Perspective series, we caught up with Vincenzo Landino, a content strategist for Fortune 100s, to learn about his routine, career insights, and predictions for the future of marketing.
  • Basketball is back and the NBA’s new official beer, Michelob Ultra, unveiled #UltraCourtside – a virtual fan experience that will appear in-game broadcasts and give 300 fans an opportunity to digitally interact with each other live.
  • Taylor Swift spontaneously released her eight album without singles or campaigns to generate buzz. Within an hour of its release, the unexpected news of Swift’s album was everywhere as fans frantically tagged #folklore and recreated images across social media – impressively taking over Spotify charts with pure word-of-mouth.

If there is one thing we learned from FX’s recent activation, Comic-Con@Home, it reveals that there is no substitute for live experiences – but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t experiment. “FX Networks, which has had an experiential presence at the event for seven years, fully pivoted planned physical activations to innovative digital offerings for fandoms stuck at home,” shares Ian Zeyala with AdWeek. 

The virtual activation – inspired by several FX series – featured gamification, content creation, and the FX on Hulu Cosplay Gallery, which encouraged fans to submit their costume photos and art via Instagram, displaying their Cosplay efforts on an interactive digital gallery. Cosplay has always been an iconic part of the Comic-Con experience – where fans showcase their impressive craftsmanship with realistic and creative costumes of their favorite characters – and the goal was to keep the tradition alive with the first virtual cosplay gallery.

While publications argue Comic-Con could have been better, it still challenged and forced creativity beyond what we’ve experienced in the past (and in a short timeframe). And it seems their fans understand. “I’m so grateful we’re able to continue with Comic-Con this year, even if it looks a little different,” shared Sam Maggs, a frequent Comic-Con attendee and author. 

An important result from this virtual experience means Comic-Con became accessible to everyone for the first time ever – without fans having to spend on travel and lodging. Now, with new insights, Comic-Con plans to recreate famed parties and fan meet-ups – demonstrating the experiment exposed new opportunities to grow and create more value next time around.

What is your burning marketing question? Let us know here.