People are still actively buying and researching for products and services, and brand matters more than ever.

It’s a shocking thought, isn’t it? How can people be considering this given the fear-instilling headlines across the tabloids daily…and globally?

It’s happening, and people have a surprisingly good outlook on their personal spending in the future, too.

**Please note in reading this, that there are some industries that have been hit very hard as a result of the pandemic. However the point of this blog is to highlight that not all industries are hit equal and that customers are still customers, whether they are buying from you or not.**

According to a study from BCG, around 70 – 80% of respondents have not reduced their spending on everyday activities to date. Across the board, whilst travel and tourism have taken a hit, in more specific categories consumers see that premium brands have lower perceived risk in interactions.

Furthermore, it seems that there is considerable expectation that spending on some categories will increase in the next 6 months. Of course, there are some losing categories, however some of these we imagine to be seasonal like outerwear (given it is American data), and others related to the fact that more people are looking to spend more on health (and thus, less on smoking products, gambling etc).

On an observational note, across the many clients that we are working with across many different industries, there are some businesses that are holding steady, others who have seen major growth, and of course those that are unfortunately struggling through this time.

The point? It’s not universal doom and gloom, and whilst some businesses and individuals are experiencing extreme difficulty in this time, I do believe that now is not the time to be trigger heavy on big decisions, and it’s also not necessarily the right assumption that you’re next.

What do I take from this?

Now is not the time to be pulling the brakes entirely on marketing.

People are thirsty for content, interested and intent on purchasing online and are showing some interest in particular sectors in picking up spending in the coming months. It’s definitely time to wise up on spend and review your most valuable marketing channels absolutely. Long gone are the days of throwing money at the wall and seeing what sticks. It is however very clear, that the businesses that continue to communicate with their customers and foster community, focus on customer and team safety, promote value and continue to deliver quality will come out on the other side stronger than ever.

Businesses should review their marketing spend with logic, not emotion.

It is also expected that businesses will, of course, follow logic and readjust spend as needed for business profitability.

There is a big difference for many businesses that are not affected to the same level as some industries, like wineries and airlines, where going into full hibernation is not necessary but rather a reaction to the fear-mongering of media outlets around harsh, grim economic outlooks with no light at the end of the tunnel.

Everyone has had to re-adjust, cut the fat, re-forecast and make tough decisions, but these are good decisions to make even outside of a pandemic. Businesses can always run more productively and economically and this has been an exposing reality check for that.

People don’t want to hear from brands they don’t really know.

But my customers do know me, don’t they?

Ask yourself this, what are you actually saying to your customers that helps them understand whether your brand aligns with them?

The deal-culture that has been created from brands to win market share have found many lost, without a voice that doesn’t include a price tag, and doesn’t include vague, homogeneous, and indistinctive terminology like SALE, BUY NOW and LIMITED OFFER.

Our world has already instilled homogeneous user experience and interface across every business interaction. Think about how you buy your airline tickets, or the e-wallet ticket designs, or your last takeaway experience with a cafe. Where has unique gone?

Pair this with an unequivocal macro-shift in businesses vocabulary to terminology which has no extra depth than the latest advert or sale, and you’ve got yourself a very lost customer on what brands they really want to transact with.

In a time when many businesses can’t transact in the same way they did before, businesses have an unprecedented opportunity to start on a clean slate and bring their true brand back to the forefront.

Businesses must go back to their core values and reasons that customers interact with them, and layer these messages with empathy and reassurance.

Digital spend won’t necessarily increase, but people will get smart with this spend.

Observationally, we’ve heard many shifts in pipeline and current work from more traditional agencies across Australia in TV, radio and outdoor reducing. We’re also in more conversations with many other agencies around how we can assist them and their clients to offer strong digital deliverables to their creative and PR strategies.

Businesses are NOT going to completely supplement spend from other channels onto digital. In fact, there will be many businesses that heavily cut digital also. In an article from Bloomberg, they suggest that in industries like online travel, automakers, restaurants and retail there is suggestion of 30 – 50% drops in spend on digital ads.

This is an opportunity in itself. In an article from The Wall Street Journal, these cuts are driven by the expecting onset of recession from/catalysed by the coronavirus pandemic. Ad rates are falling across most platforms, meaning that for those who are wanting and willing, there is a cheaper opportunity to converse with your customers.

Low ad prices create both opportunities and new strategic questions for many advertisers.


So, the crux of it…

You can look at this highly uncertain time as glass half full or glass half empty. There is information on the internet so vast that you can almost conclude whatever you want to from it and find enough supporting evidence to back your claim (depending on how alternative you are willing to source your information).

For me and the team at Neon Treehouse, we are doing everything we can to keep the team, our clients and Australia safe by doing our part. But we are looking forward with positivity.

Be smart, savvy, measured, prepared, and empathetic with your business decisions during this time. And remember that brands and how they act will be noticed and remembered on the other side.

We all want this to be over soon, but not before we’ve learnt our lesson.