What can be done when everything seems to be collapsing, the world suddenly comes to a standstill and one is quite literally no longer master of their situation? We believe: a lot, now more than ever. Perhaps we need the disappointment of a crisis to become tougher, more versatile, more resilient and, finally, more digital. Not because we can, but because we now must. We won’t allow ourselves to be crippled by fear and are bidding farewell to what was just recently our normality. Instead, we are now transforming with the world. On this page, we will regularly share our hypotheses and thoughts, meant to inspire action.
Now, at the start of the crisis, it’s about the ultimate ability to adapt in the shortest amount of time, about maximum agility under maximum financial pressure. We will experience a market correction on both the agency and enterprise/company side. What is decisive is not size (this can actually be a disadvantage), but rather the willingness to change, the courage not to duck away, but to see as clearly as possible and act quickly.
– Charles Darwin
Let’s start with some thoughts on marketing. Will there ever again be detailed annual marketing plans? Or rough and detailed plans, created over the course of months, making their way through multiple departments for approval? Probably not. What we will all now finally learn is the absolute ability to adapt in the shortest possible amount of time. We will become accustomed to it. There is no way back. Agencies, companies and brands who do not show this ability will have a hard time proving their right to continue to exist.
Will everything be fine after May, be just as it was before corona? No, we should prepare ourselves for a longer economic crisis and for a new, different time afterward. Not everything will be different, but much will be. Exactly what will be different is difficult to predict at the moment. Here are a few initial, mixed hypotheses in very different areas:
More thoughts, more structured thoughts… to follow soon.
COVID-19 is keeping the whole world busy these days. Brick and mortar retail is at a standstill, places of public gathering are closed and home office is becoming the new normal. Today, we already know that corona will be a transitory phenomenon with wide-reaching consequences. We will pass into an everyday life that has changed and we will also come to terms with the changes—for people adapt and yearn for a bit of normality. The question that we should ask ourselves, then, is not: Do I still need marketing now? But rather: What do I need to change in order for my marketing to gain new relevance.
In this new era, who will manage it?
What can we expect and how can we react?
What is happening
What we should do
What we need to master
Restrictions in everyday life and increases in new infections. Some try to deal with the situation, others repress it as just a little sniffle. We are tense and insecure.
Clarification and reassurance are central. Those who approach the situation, but do not try to profit from it, will gain people’s attention and affection. We communicate transparently, knowledgeably, relevantly, clearly and in solidarity.
Restrictions in everyday life and new infections stagnate at the peak. The numbers that are reported to us every day are both shocking and simultaneously the new normal. We have come to terms with the challenges and have developed new coping mechanisms. And we’re yearning for a bit of ease and communication that has nothing to do with Corona.
Our communication doesn’t get in the way and supports in the right places. But conversation and refuge from the everyday are now important. We test out where we can present new offers and meet people within their own contexts. We communicate emotionally, motivationally, simply while remaining compassionate in a challenging situation.
THE NEW NORMAL
New infection rates are slowly sinking, restrictions are easing, a medical solution has been found. But many things are not as they were—and you won’t be either. We have changed for the long-term, and we are again eager for action. We prefer buying online, communicate virtually, work remotely without any problems and pay without cash.
We offer new solutions that meet the needs of user behavior and digital thinking is elemental. Our communication is diverse and varies, with a new-found empathy, human and always purposeful.
Even before corona, oddity had already mastered the digital channels, has always helped to watch unexpected changes live and knows how to react to them: in agile creation processes that are tailored to meet the unpredictable and maximize cooperation.
In times of restriction of movement and home office, it is increasingly difficult for people to stay occupied. So it stands to reason that media usage is seeing massive increases these days. But not all genres of media are profiting from the current situation. While the genres have traditionally been divided into classical and digital, since corona we have had to venture an upstream division: the division into genres that are used within one’s own four walls, and those used without.
It then quickly becomes clear that media genres such as out-of-home and cinema are currently struggling with heavy losses in reach. Instead, TV and digital in particular are growing massively. People are occupying themselves with large and small screens, meaning screen time is skyrocketing. For TV in particular, this will lead to significantly improved efficiency in purchasing, as significantly more people (net reach), above all less-frequent viewers, can be reached in higher doses of contact (gross reach). The development of information media such as print and radio will strongly depend on when people’s need for information gives way for their desire for escapism.
In the digital world, there are winners and losers, so we need to differentiate between the two here. Besides streaming services, which can only currently be stopped by limited bandwidth, environments with pages on news, fitness, cooking, games, life hacks, diets, health, finance and e-learning are among the most visited websites, joined by media communication platforms and social media providers such as Facebook, Snapchat and TikTok.
It will be fascinating to see how advertisers will use these channels in the future. Due to changes in purchasing behavior with respect to e-commerce, they should consider the entire customer journey, thus planning brand and performance campaigns together or no longer distinguishing between the two at all. Those who have not yet made the transition to online shopping must also find a way to offer and sell their products in the digital world as quickly as possible. All advertising measures should be aimed at bringing users to e-commerce platforms in their last contact. This is not only true for manufacturing sectors, but especially for retailers, who now need to move quickly to recapture the revenues lost in their stores online.
There are no more excuses, because the corona crisis means that advertisers can now truly reach everyone digitally. The elderly in particular are now starting to explore digital means of making contact with family and friends and will likely have positive experiences. In the future, as a result, we will also be able to reach older people digitally quite well.
One thing is still true despite the virus: efficient delivery of content and good campaigns must be measured cleanly. The much-vaunted ROPO effect doesn't matter anymore, but everyone should have proper campaign tracking and website analytics in place. This is the only way for advertisers to analyze where the traffic on their own sites comes from, how peak times are changing thanks to home office and how conversion rates can be optimized.
As extensive as these changes are, they now give every company the chance to break out of dusty and deadlocked thinking patterns and structures. In this situation, everyone has to re-sort themselves and find their own way through the crisis. This will be managed by the companies that bring together the potential in their marketing and sales optimally.
5 recommendations for their campaigns:
GWI Coronavirus Research | March 2020
Online in the times of corona: How media consumption is developing
Coronavirus is causing a standstill—the marketing industry also fears for its orders.
The traditional retail world was already under great pressure to change from e-commerce. With Corona/COVID-19, a tsunami is also hitting the retail world that will trigger a process of change and consolidation that only occurs perhaps every 20 years. My thoughts—two for retailers, two for brands:
Online orders—the new standard
The current lockdowns of entire regions/countries, closed shops and social distancing are leading to major sales losses in many product categories in local retail. The majority of people will spend most of their time at home and will avoid local shops in the coming weeks, possibly the coming months. As a result, online ordering will become absolutely routine. Behavioral changes are triggered by a high number of repetitions. Just as videoconferencing is becoming the new standard for meetings, online ordering will be the new standard for shopping— even in product categories for daily use, where it is still of minor importance today. For retailers: this means crunch time for e-commerce—the big cake is now being sliced up.
New concepts are essential for survival
If we are being honest, many traditional retailers have only worked half-heartedly on multi-channel concepts for years. In recent years, many retailers have grown primarily through expansion of space. However, those times are now past. During and after the COVID-19 crisis, companies will have to ask themselves whether the store formats that were successful in the past are still up-to-date and whether the associated cost structures are still competitive. Now there is intense competition. Many retailers must radically digitalize and rethink their business models and services—with new store formats, networked digital services, local delivery and customer-friendly pickup concepts.
Rethinking brand staging
In the pre-corona period, many brands staged their products at the classic POS - with elaborate POS systems, brand worlds or their own flagship stores. The presentation of products at the digital POS was often seen as a tedious and annoying task. Whoever neglects this in the future will have significant problems. In the future, brands will focus their energy and budgets on the digital world to successfully sell their products on the relevant e-commerce platforms. Online points of sale will generate more sales than brick-and-mortar ones. The times in which those responsible on the retail and brand side spent months debating content formats are a thing of the past. Brands must act. And understand web trade marketing as a central success factor.
Next Level Customer Service
The increasing concentration of digital points of sale is being accompanied by a decline in the quality of service and consultation from the point of view of the brands—because the retailers and platforms are finding it difficult to offer high-quality consultation for ever-larger product ranges. End customers receive a comprehensive overview of products via pictures, videos, texts, ratings/reviews. I am convinced, however, that in the coming months we will see completely new concepts where brands take on advisory and service functions on retailers' sales platforms - e.g. chats or bots managed by brands—as is already standard in China today on platforms like Tmall.
We help retailers and brands to reach the next level in e-commerce. For over 10 years, we have linked 230 brands and 3,000 online retailers in 80 countries with our Commerce Connector platform. References: Brands – e.g. Samsung, Bosch, Groupe SEB, LG, L’Oréal, 3M; Online-Shops, among others, Amazon, OTTO, Walmart, Best Buy, and many more.
Exhibitions can provide a market overview within a very short time. Innovations can be experienced here even before they are ready for the market. This is how it used to work. However, the experience with real contact persons who demonstrate their competence live and convey trust will no longer exist in the foreseeable future. And for the time after that, changed habits will apply. Because here, too, the classic principles of evolution apply - further developments that have already begun never turn back.
Will we all find ourselves in virtual exhibition centers? In a computer simulation, so to speak? We do not believe so. We believe that there will be a smart evolution and recombining of already existing technologies. Exhibitions will be divided into two dimensions: Away from mega-events to smaller events. Away from one-shots to new, really good digital permanent availability. Those who take unconventional paths here will be able to act for their customers again most quickly. And can, in the meantime, digitalize, accelerate and make sales channels measurable.
Manufacturer overviews and comparisons are replaced by comprehensive and more comprehensible digital product presentations. Corporate websites are extended into further channels and enriched with clever CRM content.
Personal contact is sometimes more and sometimes less virtual, depending on the scope of the restrictions applicable in each case. But it always remains "as human" as possible.
If the client does not come to the trade fair, then we come to the clients. Either in streaming events with hundreds of participants. Or with mobile solutions that are independent of location and time.
he product experience is transferred completely into the digital world. The possibilities of the digital channels are now really exploited for the first time. Target group-oriented preparation, personalized contact and information routes, virtual experience. But: speed is crucial and unconventional solutions are required. Six months of concept phase was yesterday.
Small, mobile units and new, digital innovation hubs will merge seamlessly. On the one hand we will see more interactive and better explanatory web specials with a lot of depth and real experience. Including an end-to-end process for reach generation, registration and lead management. On the other hand, we see the shift from the classic trade fair stand concept to a transportable container solution, e.g. digital trade fair cubes. The cube brings the trade fair exhibits to the customer, where presentations can be made in small groups. For times of maximum restrictions, the Trade Fair Cube is equipped with integrated equipment for video streaming and presentations, where product presentations can take place in webinars or closed 1:1 sessions.
In times of greater freedom of movement, one or more Fair Cubes can be set up on the normal exhibition grounds or in the form of in-house exhibitions.
We have experience building containers, exhibition stands and exhibits as well as in digital event and transmission technology. We are able to implement and deliver complete digital and mobile concepts, from conception to implementation.
A few weeks ago, our world was different: we woke up, thought about what to wear, grabbed our keys, mobile phones and headphones and got a coffee on the way to our office. Today we get up, get dressed and make ourselves coffee at home. Only a few people still go to the office, most work from home and some cannot work at all.
The coronavirus has turned our life upside down and will probably continue to for some time. In addition to the new morning routine at home, we have also adapted our way of shopping. Going to the store after work to buy something for dinner is replaced by strategically planned visits to the supermarket. People go to the supermarket with a shopping list and try to return to their homes as quick as possible. Additionally, the products bought differ from those just a few weeks ago. The focus is now on food with a long shelf life and essential products for personal well-being.
Other noticeable changes are:
But which of these behaviors will we adopt for good? Will our consumer behavior change in the long term? And are we, in any means, able to predict that?
To be honest, we do not know what is going to happen in the next few weeks.
But we would like to show you two scenarios that seem possible to us based on research, studies and a qualitative survey.
One possible scenario is that, when the current restrictions are lifted, consumer behavior will return to normal after a brief period of euphoria. People will still maintain a strong focus on their health and the situation of the world around them. After lifting the current restrictions, people will find their way back to their regular everyday life - whereby the "regular" everyday life is replaced by a new normality. Many have had their first experiences with online shopping during this time and will continue to shop online more often afterwards. However, stationary trade will continue to remain very relevant. At the same time, people will once again appreciate all the opportunities their everyday live offers them. Going out to eat at the restaurant next door was not possible for weeks but will be celebrated as something special again. They will be happy the crisis is over. They will catch up on some of the things they have given up on and will start planning, for example, to travel again - although initially more locally than globally. However, people will be more cautious in their new normality. Above all, their own health will be even more important than before. People will not take their own health and the world around them for granted anymore. The issue of sustainability is therefore becoming increasingly relevant. People will want to protect the world around them and try to buy more sustainable products. At the same time, the demand for regional products from local retailers, who have not had it easy in recent weeks, will grow. Solidarity towards others and the community in general will become more important again.
Another scenario is that consumer behavior will be permanently changed by the crisis and is therefore no longer comparable with previous behavior. The restrictions (in an adapted form) and their consequences accompany people even longer than we currently assume. These effects will continue until a vaccine is developed - which, according to current knowledge, will not be the case before autumn, rather 2021 - but there will still be lasting consequences. The times remain uncertain. The fear of a new crisis will change people's consumer behavior forever. As a result, Big Data may experience an upswing, as it will be more important than ever to understand the changed customer needs and predict further changes. People will permanently withdraw into their homes and become more and more familiar with everyday life at home. E-commerce will experience a further upswing. Live-streaming, gaming and e-learning will become more and more important. In addition to services that contribute to entertainment, one’s own health also plays a major role in this scenario. Products that contribute to personal safety and well-being will still be in demand. Luxury items and activities such as traveling will become less important.
E-commerce will gain in relevance
Health will become more important
Sustainability becomes even more important
The presented scenarios indicate directions in which human behavior could develop in the future. It is also quite possible that only individual aspects of these scenarios will occur or that everything will turn out completely different.
But what do these changes mean for communication? The answer to this question is likely to change constantly, just like the current situation. Irrespective of this, the following tips can be used as a tool to communicate in regard to the changed consumer behavior - always with the premise of remaining open: For changes, for new challenges, but also for new opportunities
Evaluate and, if necessary, rethink existing strategies
Keep an eye on your community and be aware what they really want and need
Always keep the current situation in mind while planning new content
Monitoring of communicative measures is important. If necessary,make adjustments or pause individual formats.
Now more than ever: offer an added value
TikTok Challenges, Live Streams & Home Workouts – While scrolling through our Instagram feed in times of corona, we mainly feel one thing: creativity. It might sound harsh, but we nearly never laughed as hard when discovering Memes as we are currently. This creativity doesn’t stop at images and funny videos, though. It’s all about new solutions for challenges, which we as humans face today. We picked out three of those current challenges and want to show you how communities tackle them creatively and what brands can take away from this for their communication – or even ultimately have to learn to stay relevant.
How can we stay connected, without actually meeting one another?
The desire for personal closeness in times of working from home and social distancing in general definitely comes up short. Already after a few days, we could see how Social Media was used to overcome barriers and find new ways to stay connected without being spatially close. From balcony concerts to streaming apps, where friends can meet each other virtually. Instagram now offers a function where users can co-watch posts via video chat – cool! Also nice: Challenges, which spread via Instagram stories like wildfire. From children’s pictures to sport exercises, everything is already out there. Alright, if we’re being honest – we’re all happy no one has (yet) nominated us for that pushup challenge.
How can I keep up with my interests at home?
Spending the whole day at home, even though we would usually head out to yoga classes, the gym or cooking classes. But hey, no problem, thanks to some creative power.
Fitness instructors teach live classes, post fitness challenges and keep Germany as fit as ever. Digitally. Even private Sporty Spices share their home workouts, get creative when they have no exercise gear around and try to help other people to stay motivated. Artists perform in empty halls or in their living rooms and share it with their fans via Instagram Live. Instagram daily shares different Live formats for the community through a timetable – such as talks, tutorials or cooking classes. There’s lots of variety going on here.
Also, a big topic in terms of distraction: TikTok. There seems to have been a strong increase in user activity in Germany within the last month. Even though TikTok usually is popular among a younger audience, the interest now also grows within older audiences. Why? It’s the perfect channel to fight boredom in quarantine.
How can I stay positive with all the bad news?
The wish for some positivity in these tough times is present within all of us. Social Media is a common tool to share positive thoughts and to show cohesion. Thanking everyday heroes, arranged applause from balconies or solidary, motivating words for a more positive everyday life. Social Media helps us to remember: We’re not alone.
And in case you do feel lonely, uncertain or afraid after all, there’s only one thing left to help: humor. There’s quite a few, very funny memes out there regarding less funny topics such as quarantine, skype-calls, absent holidays or panic buying. These are definitely one of our highlights in Social Media these days.
After a short insight into the creative power behind Social Media there’s one question remaining: What are the biggest takeaways for brands?
Firstly: Staying agile. Fast as a fox. Weasel? Nevermind. What happens today, is relevant today. Tomorrow it might be still okay, but latest the day after tomorrow the user will have lost interest. Social Media is fast. And Corona might have opened the eyes of everyone who still didn’t get it until now. Brands who clearly took a stance and reacted fast, instead of ignoring the situation, have won. Missing reaction to the current situation and the relevant topics for users has been punished with slipping attention of the communities.
Secondly: Humor wins. We notice that a playful, light handling of the challenges go down well with the communities. So, can brands be more humoristic, too? How could a brand realistically integrate humor? Dare to try it!
In the current situation, humor doesn’t only need courage but also sensibility. We always advice to test your ideas before creating and publishing. Connect with your colleagues and ask for their opinion on your ideas.
Thirdly: Putting the user needs first. Of course, this is nothing new but ever more important at the current moment. Good communication needs to focus on the user needs and find ways for brand messages to be relevant. In times of working from home etc. our users have different interests and want to feel understood. If we can offer this, that’s good. But if we can’t it might be better to not communicate before it seems unauthentic and fake. Sometimes it helps to take some of that community creativity and try to find ways to establish relevance for our users.
Even before the corona crisis hit China at the beginning of the year and massively restricted the everyday life of the world's most populated country, China was already a big step ahead of Germany in terms of digitalization.
One simple example is mobile phone coverage: while you usually lose your network connection entering a subway station in Germany, you won't experience any reception problems in China—even while riding 1,300 km from Beijing to Shanghai on the bullet train, you can rely on always having online access.
Once more, 740 million Chinese are online in social networks in 2020. The most successful app, WeChat, even has over a billion active users globally every month, and the Chinese software company ByteDance is setting new standards in social media around the world with TikTok.
China also has a digital lead in areas of everyday life that still take place almost entirely offline in Germany. According to a PWC study from 2019, 68% of Chinese consumers buy products online at least once a week. According to forsa, the German share is around 14%. In China, products from absolutely every category are ordered online—from care products to vegetables. This has been part of Chinese everyday life for several years.
While China has been battling its way through the corona crisis in recent weeks, further shifts towards e-commerce have taken place. Where before only well-known influencers set up live streams to promote the products of major brands, now everyone is streaming live. Farmers advertise their harvest from home and thereby prevent food from being wasted, real estate agents guide virtually through apartments and car dealers present all features of their sales models in the live stream. The Chinese cosmetics brand Forest Cabin even trained 1,600 vendors in doing live streams, thus enabling them to make products accessible to consumers and attract new customers, despite the crisis.
In the period of the lockdown and also afterward, e-commerce has become an even more integral part of everyday life. In particular for everyday goods, online demand has continued to grow as people are still very concerned about hygiene and social distancing has become the new norm. There is an exciting new development in logistics: in some places robots are taking over the last mile of delivery for large platforms. For example in February, JD robotically delivered supplies to a hospital in Wuhan, and robots were also used in a field hospital to ease the burden on medical staff. With all the experience gained during the crisis, a first step has been taken to test robots and drones and use them in everyday life as soon as possible. The crisis has accelerated the development and implementation of new technologies.
What conclusions can a European brand draw from the events of recent months? Investing in the Chinese market today and building a well-thought-out presence—for example on Tmall Global—not only enables participation in the world's largest consumer market, but companies also gain real insights into the future of retail, giving them a head start that they can use profitably in other markets.
Due to the fact that the legal situation for cross-border trade has been made much less complicated, not only in China, but for example also in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, brands can manage their business from Europe without the need for a local branch.
oddity Asia supports brands with a team of +45 experts based in Shanghai and Taipei with both local expertise and international know-how.
Simultaneously, as the crisis unfolded, a Germany-wide development program started. The title of the program: Digital Collaboration. In the future, we will no longer argue about whether or not it makes sense to hold meetings, workshops, etc. online. We’ll just do it. This crisis will also see a boost in the use of knowledge available in digital form. Now content from TED Talks, Harvard Business courses or LinkedIn offerings will be discovered and used. They are, after all, already online and can help us in these times.
And in the future? Seminars concerned purely with the transfer of knowledge will now lose their legitimacy, if they haven’t already. People always come together naturally to develop themselves. This will now occur in a mix of analog and digital formats. The goal of these gatherings will be to create something and to discover something new together. So, we will develop together.
On an individual level, data-driven development will expand. The individual user’s independent use of tools along their developmental path generates data. Using intelligent analysis, this data will be used to further advance the progress of the individual. As this can be handled and scaled using platforms, personal development will become the data-driven development of organizations.
What use is a whole series of workshops in developing an organization? When meeting is necessary at all, it will be done digitally. In these meetings, individuals’ data can be used to incorporate complementary supporting measures.
Will this concept become a reality in the distant future? I don’t think so. It has already knocked on our door and is starting now. Why? Our development program: Digital Collaboration is already running.
We at oddity evolve can build on this development. With our platform for individual development for executives, we are already active in the market. Executives are developing themselves using mobile technology by integrating our application into their daily lives. From diagnostics to the development of skills, we have digitalized the entire developmental process. We are currently working to further improve the user experience and increase effectivity.