Post-COVID Consumer Strategies, Getting Closer To the Consumer in a Post-Crisis World | HT Brand Leadership Series

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Post-COVID Consumer Strategies, Getting Closer To the Consumer in a Post-Crisis World

  • Manish Dureja, MD & CEO, InterMiles
  • September 21, 2020

In the post-COVID-19 world, the intangible connection between Company and Customer has altered considerably to take on new form and significance. The pandemic’s spreading wave across the planet has led to millions of people now beset by new fears about their health and livelihoods. The socio-economic impact on brands, companies and the marketplace may last for months or even years. As the number of positive cases worldwide cross 15 million, global economies are in a tailspin. The intricate and inter-linked tapestry of global supply chains and marketplaces has shredded under the pressure of the coronavirus. 

With no end in sight, customers are struggling to understand the ‘new normal’. Industries are starting to rebuild value chains and businesses are looking to navigate their way to the post-COVID-19 customer. In this new paradigm, the old marketing playbooks may no longer be valid. The rules are being re-written every day, and marketers need to go back to fundamentals to determine success factors. 

Understanding the pulse of the consumer: Consumer priorities and preferences have changed significantly. Price points, trendiness, latest-on-the-shelf – these triggers may no longer influence purchase behaviours to the extent they used to. Health, safety, hygiene – these are the top-of-mind factors that are influencing purchase behaviours. Lifestyle patterns have changed almost overnight and several sectors are facing the brunt of this. For instance, the future of consumer experiences in cinema halls, malls and retail outlets, travel, tourism, hospitality is still evolving and largely remains uncertain due to lack consumer confidence. 

There has been a clear transition to digital platforms favouring ecommerce, work-from-home, online learning, etc, and this shows no signs of abating. Footfalls in brick-and-mortar outlets still remain low. The digital transition is less smooth in some product categories where trying out or touching a product – buying a sofa, a shoe or a car — is part of the decision making process. Companies need to understand these challenges and innovate solutions to overcome them using digital and tech enabled solutions 

Continuous communication and transparency: With health and safety looming larger as influencing factors, business-as-usual branding has to take a backseat. Empathy and community-first have become key brand messages. Even if the cash registers have fallen silent, building trust and credibility through communication is a worthwhile long term goal. Companies need to keep stakeholders abreast of the impact of the evolving COVID-19 situation by ensuring consistent communication on how the crisis is being dealt with. Customers will reward brands that rate high on trust with loyalty.

Educating consumers and reassuring them: During and post-COVID-19 world, it is critical for companies to optimize online channels that promote two-way communication. It’s of paramount importance that customers feel they have a voice and that the brand is listening. Communication is key to this relationship – communiques on protocols for employee safety, customer touchpoints, workplace hygiene, no-touch delivery, etc will help towards building greater brand loyalty. Presenting the human and humane face of the organization will help reassure customers. 

Giving customers a voice in decision-making: The COVID-19 crisis has lessons for all of us about the value of human interaction, and the need to put people and community first. In a socially-distanced, no-touch marketplace, customers may prefer a human connect and contact. Companies would do well to reach out personally to customers to understand the new ground realities. Barring that, online or mobile-based surveys may provide a better picture of customer concerns. 

COVID-19 provides unprecedented challenges to marketers but it also offers opportunities to brands to explore and take those extra steps to connect with consumers at a deeper, more meaningful level than ever before. 


Manish Dureja
Manish Dureja, MD & CEO, InterMiles

Manish comes with over 20 years of experience across loyalty management, business and marketing. He is an active member of many professional societies and a thought leader on marketing, loyalty programme design and development, strategic planning, airline revenue management, and CRM. He has been recognized as one of the top 30 loyalty professionals in the world by the Loyalty Magazine.