One year later, and it seems that “unprecedented times” are here to stay. COVID-19 pandemic has impacted almost every aspect of our lives. It’s not only the way we work, socialize, learn, spend the leisure time that has changed. Also, the way we shop will never be quite the same. Since our society changed so drastically during the last year, it is important to adjust our business’ customer profile accordingly.
The digital revolution of 2020 pushed companies to adopt the digital-first way of business fast. But, while in a hurry to digitize their business according to our new reality, many focused solely on technology. Thus opening themselves to the risk of failing to keep track of their existing and potential customers.
From the drawing board to personalized marketing messages, businesses should make every decision with a customer in mind. So let me ask you, is your business customer-oriented, or is your company stuck in the past?
What is a Customer Profile?
One of the best ways to truly understand your customers is through customer profiling. Basically, a customer profile is a document with a description of your ideal customers. These sketches of your customers can help your team put themselves in the customer’s shoes.
But, how do you figure out who your ideal customers are and what they are like? A customer profile is not based on your daydreaming of a perfect customer. Instead, you need to make profiles through customer data analysis. This includes noting demographics, life-cycle, location, needs, interests, attitudes, spending patterns, etc.
Whether you are an experienced business owner with a drawer full of meticulously written customer profiles, or you are just starting to research the market for your future dream company, you need to take into account COVID-19’s impact on customers. Suppose you already have an up and running business. In that case, you can survey your existing customers and use Google and Facebook analytics to gain insight into your customer pool. If you are just starting, you can use Facebook analytics as well. Through Facebook Business Audience Insights, you can learn more about audiences of businesses or influencers similar to your brand.
Here is a quick rundown of the most important consumer behavior changes you should keep on your radar.
Increased Awareness of Health and Attention to Personal Hygiene
It’s to no one’s surprise that the global pandemic made us more aware of our health. According to Accenture’s research, the vast majority of consumers rank the personal health and health of their friends and family in their top 3 priorities. Seeing how COVID-19 is transmitted, personal hygiene has become more important to people worldwide. Hence, customers’ preferences changed.
Before 2020, eco-friendly products and the promotion of sustainable solutions were more important than they are now. Since coronavirus started, customers pay increased attention to healthy and hygienic packaging and the company’s devotion to employee safety. In times like these, when we are under prolonged stress, you should aspire to invoke the feeling of safety with your marketing messages. Adjust your long-going campaigns and slogans in accordance with our new reality. For example, Kentucky Fried Chicken suspended for the time being their famous “Finger Lickin’ Good” slogan. Others were not as careful and appeared tone-deaf to the pandemic. Mint Mobile LLC’s commercial that features people dipping their fingers in a queso bowl and licking each other’s fingers received major backlash on social media. Increased sensitivity, agility, and adaptability when crafting marketing messages will remain crucial in 2021.
Additionally, showcasing the ways your company is taking care of employees can be a good way to earn the trust and respect of prospective customers. Championing safety at the workplace is no longer reserved for construction and energy businesses. Regardless of your industry, you should strive to be recognized as a benchmark for safe and well-treated workforce. Safety of your employees will improve your brand image, since 2020 this aspect significantly influences purchasing decisions.
Healthier Lifestyles and Personal Well-Being
Apart from the obvious concern regarding personal hygiene, people are generally adopting healthier lifestyles. The combination of restaurant closures and increased health awareness resulted in significant changes in dietary habits. 43% of Americans reported adoption of healthier eating habits since the COVID-19 outbreak. Many also focused on fitness. The number of online users of fitness apps will likely reach 1 billion by 2024.
Even if your business isn’t in the health industry, this major paradigm shift among the general public should interest you. It should be reflected in your business’s customer profiles in order to create content that is relevant to your target market. However, one size does not fit all, and healthy food and exercising might not be your company’s thing. It wouldn’t make sense to advertise unhealthy snacks with a picture of your product next to a salad bowl, right? You can stay true to your beliefs and promote authenticity in different ways while still being in line with current trends and hot topics. Since customers expect entertainment from brands on social media, you can create humorous posts that normalize enjoying guilty pleasures and remove shame. While this may not sit well with strict healthy lifestyle advocates it will be refreshing and entertaining to your audience.
Mental Health Awareness
It is not only physical health people began paying more attention to. While 2020 was more than stressful, it shed a spotlight on the importance of mental health. Demand for digital mental wellness services is increasing and wide-known self-care forms, such as meditation apps, are gaining popularity.
Since customers expect businesses to have personalities just like people do, your company can use its social media channels to advocate for mental health and wellbeing. Unlike exercising and dietary trends, there is no room for joking when it comes to mental health awareness. You can use social media to show how much you care, not only about physical safety but also about your employees’ wellbeing. Rather than just sharing inspirational posts about the importance of taking care of oneself, this way you can show that you practice what you preach.
Online Shopping Revolution Across All Demographics
Due to the restrictive measures and the increased risk of getting the COVID-19 virus, customers followed social distancing rules by swapping the crowded malls for online stores. Fast digital adoption used to be reserved for tech-savvy younger generations. However, for the first time, online shopping is becoming mainstream among older generations. In 2020, they were the fastest growing online shopping group with a 49 percent increase in spending compared to the previous year.
So, if you think that a Baby Boomer’s customer profile should have a brick-and-mortar preference, you’re mistaken Older shoppers are turning to e-commerce not only due to the pandemic but also because online shopping services are becoming easier to use. It is important to adjust your online presence and digital marketing strategy according to the new demographics. For attracting and keeping older customers, you need to adapt the UX/UI and make it more usable for seniors. Also, it is a good idea to make an easy-to-follow instructional video that can guide your customers through every step of the buying process.
When it comes to advertising, we recommend reaching your older customers through Facebook and email marketing. While younger generations are shifting to Instagram and TikTok, Boomers are still preferring Facebook. And even though digital veterans like Millennials and Gen Z feel overwhelmed by email and social media marketing, the opposite is true for retired people. It appears that only 34% of retirees feel overwhelmed by the number of newsletters they receive compared to 61% of Gen Z. If you are targeting younger audiences through email marketing don’t push promotional messages with discounts and loyalty programs. Instead, focus on engaging visuals, authenticity and testimonials.
Another age-related difference that should be noted in your customer profiles is the effect of shipping prices and delivery options on various demographics. According to Lasership’s research, free shipping is the most important factor for 77% of customers. Offering free shipping is a great acquisition strategy, especially for attracting new Baby Boomer shoppers. However, compared to the 83% of Baby Boomers, only 58% of Gen Z-ers find free shipping as the most important option. For younger generations, speed and convenience are more important. The good news is they are ready to pay more money for it. The most cost-effective shipping strategy might be offering free standard or return shipping and next-day or same-day delivery for an additional cost. Advertise benefits of each shipping method according to customer profiles and target audiences.
Work from Home and Changes in Mobility
o ensure their employees’ safety, the majority of companies chose to change their work styles and swap their offices for remote work. Almost 70% of workers in the United States worked from home last year. And it appears that the trend of remote work is here to stay. According to the same research, an astounding 80% of workers expect to work remotely at least three times per week after COVID-19 guidelines are lifted.
That being said, we need to adapt our marketing messages according to the new overall sentiment to work and mobility. Because no one wants to experience the major backlash Dettol faced for their tone-deaf back-to-work campaign.
This sudden change in working styles resulted in a significantly decreased number of people that commute every day. People who are continuing to travel for work are avoiding public transportation due to increased concern over health and safety. Because of this, there is a surge in commuting by bicycle and the use of private vehicles. What does this mean for your business’ customer profiles? The important thing to consider is the methods of advertising. Out-of-home (OOH) marketing in subways might not be a good idea in 2021. If you want to reach people in their homes, it is wise to invest more in online marketing. Besides the ability to step inside everybody’s homes, with a tailored customer profile, digital advertising will certainly offer you the best value for your money.
However, thinking out of the box can make your OOH campaign viral. Emily Snacks’ made memorable OOH ads by making jokes at their own expense. They bought outdoor spaces for their 2020 advertising before lockdown measures. Instead of pulling out or going for outdated marketing concepts, they made fun of themselves and their bad timing.
Understanding who your customers are is crucial for every aspect of your business. From product development to marketing messages, you should always keep your customer in mind. Living in the fast-changing world of the 21st century we don’t have the luxury of making one customer profile for the next 20 years of doing business. The best qualities your company should strive for are agility and adaptability. Regularly checking consumer trends and keeping up-to-date profiles is the best way to keep creating relevant and relatable marketing campaigns.