Generation Media | Brands, Place, Trace: Vaccinate against bad planning and focus on innovation

At this point in the pandemic it comes as a relative certainty that aspects of life as we knew it pre-2020 simply won’t be the same again. For the media space, this couldn’t be more true, as the coronavirus has simply sped up the processes that were happening long before Covid-19 hit our shores. Here, Generation Media’s Tamara Strange takes a look at the evolution across the sector, and how you can best adapt to them.

Throughout the year ahead, we’re going to have to carry on adapting to the ‘new normal’ as the meaning of the phrase continues to evolve in all aspects of our lives. Marketing plans are no exception to this. For brands to flourish, their strategies need to be modified, with fresh approaches employed in order to reach the post-pandemic 2021 consumer.

Here are a few pointers about what will be required:

Brands

The consumer journey has changed significantly and suddenly during the pandemic, which has challenged the traditional marketing funnel that we’ve become accustomed to for decades. According to Steve Hatch, VP of Facebook in Northern Europe, “it’s not 2021, it’s 2026 in terms of our audience expectations”; in other words, in just 12 months the market has evolved to a point the company was not expecting to see for five years. Brands are going to have to catch up, adapting to ensure their marketing strategy covers all stages of the renewed marketing funnel.

Bricks and mortar retailers in the UK saw a decline of over 45 per cent in footfall in 2020 versus 2019, and regardless of how soon lockdown restrictions are eased enough for life to return to the British High Street, few would suggest that we’ll ever return to pre-pandemic levels. In an environment like this, brand memorability has become more critical than ever, so building innovative 360-degree campaigns with resonance and standout for target markets will be crucial.

Marketing in a post-pandemic world will require a delicate balancing act across multiple levels of the consumer landscape. Brands will need to ensure that Digital vs TV spend, Parent vs Child targeting, and cost vs innovation considerations are finely tuned in order to successfully achieve cut-through.

Place

Effective brand placement is vital in a fast-moving marketplace. In some spheres of the media world, ‘fast-moving’ is an understatement – for example, during the first months of the pandemic, Instagram saw a 25 per cent rise in engagement, while 47 per cent of people were spending more time on social media. Meanwhile Tik-Tok has rapidly become an effective marketing channel for some audiences, and there will be plenty more to come. New and rapidly-growing platforms will need to be built in to campaigns, and business decisions and strategies regarding media planning need to be data-led, to ensure placement is keeping pace with emerging trends and driving sales.

Brands will need to think ‘glocal’ – buying campaigns globally to gain economies of scale, but with an understanding of the nuances of individual territories. For example, progress towards the digital versus linear TV tipping point varies from one country to the next, as does the weight of child versus parent pester power when it comes to making buying decisions. Not only does employing smart, cross-territory campaigns enable increased cost-saving, it also increases opportunities for innovative campaigns that reach mass audiences in individual territories.

Content-led strategies are king, boosting brand performance and memorability for audiences who are content-savvy and can spot an advert far more easily today than they could just a few years ago. Today, it’s not just about getting eyeballs, it’s about recognising that an audience knows they’re interacting with a brand, and engaging them appropriately. It’s vitally important to ensure content is at the heart of marketing executions to enhance campaign effectiveness. 

Trace

Brands need to look after the bottom of the marketing funnel. The world is leaning increasingly and irrevocably towards online retail, with total sales growth through these channels up 36 per cent year on year in 2020. Now more than ever, it’s vital for advertisers to ensure their virtual shop windows and checkout processes are streamlined and consumer-friendly. Sound social media strategies and digital marketing tactics are key to push to checkout and create a coherent customer journey online.

In this changing landscape, it’s important to know what the audience is responding to, and to act and amend touch points swiftly to reflect what their journeys are revealing. Making data-driven decisions on the basis of this information will be paramount, as will putting testing and measurement at the heart of campaigns.

Finally, brands need to have a source of expert industry insight to keep ahead of the curve. This has always been the case, but in a world that changes by the day it’s more important than ever.

Generation Media has state of the art data tools, planning systems and insights as well as a specialist global team to guide you through 2021 and help you innovate and plan successfully.

Get in touch today for a virtual coffee and to discuss how we can help your brand. Contact us at besocial@generationmedia.co.uk.

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of ToyNews and its sister title, Licensing.biz. He has worked his way from Staff Writer to Editor across the two titles, having spent almost eight years with both and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing robert.hutchins@bizmedia.co.uk or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobGHutchins if ranting is your thing...

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