In the finale of Navigating COVID-19 Series, hosts Rachel Tipograph (CEO & Founder of MikMak) and Anda Gansca (CEO & Co-Founder of Knotch) brought together leaders from brands in pet care, automobiles, CPG and other industries for a look back on where we’ve been and seeing how far we’ve come. We heard insights on how the digital world is advancing, how industries are changing for the future, and what the biggest brand leaders themselves hope to see as we continue into our new reality.The mandate of social distancing has kicked off a race for innovation as marketing teams brainstorm new ways to reach their consumers. As one panelist put it, “the companies that have the best consumer research departments and use those unique ideas to produce innovative products and services will be the winners.” In other words, in order for brands to develop unique digital experiences, they have to thoughtfully assess consumer needs during this time. Creative minds have come together to develop innovative digital experiences and new eCommerce strategies. Each industry has been impacted by COVID-19 in different ways, which will lead us to innovative advancements, and opportunities to learn from each other.
Pet Care Is Showing A Shift In Their Goods and Service Delivery Model
One brand, a household name for many pet owners, is paving the way for businesses to change the way they think about selling and offering services to consumers. Their strategy revolves around using technology in a way that provides support for their customers. They are reinventing services in ways that will make them even more scalable - For example, puppy training, which is crucial to many new dog owners, will soon be offered virtually. Moving this platform online actually allows for a much wider range of customers globally. Our panelist noted, “we’ve learned how to get comfortable with expediency.” Assessing the customer’s needs, the company also decided to use their stores as distribution centers rather than storefronts right now, allowing them to maintain a 2-3 day delivery window.
CPG Brands Are Increasing Production Speed and Product Innovation
Personal and home care products were on the front line of essential goods in demand when COVID-19 first hit, and leading brands have reacted with speed and innovation. “We didn't think we could work as fast as we’re working.” One of our panelists shared that they “feel the responsibility of producing nonstop 24/7” for consumer needs. The brand has been bringing products to market in just four short months - a record time. In addition, our panelist mentioned “tons of innovation” in the products themselves, such as biodegradable wipes and disinfectants, that are even more effective and sustainable for consumer use.
With essential products such as paper products and cleaning supplies continuing to fly off the shelf, consumer demand remains very high. However, shifts in shopping behaviors are also emerging. At the beginning of the pandemic, it was clear that consumers felt a need to stock up on any and all essential products. Now, although demand for those products remains steady, it has expanded to home improvement. Customers are also investing in their physical spaces, such as backyards and products in the home and garden space.
The Automotive Industry Is Experiencing a Shift In The Standard of Customer Care
Buying cars is another thing that will be forever changed by the impact of COVID-19. According to one of our panelists, the automotive industry was expected to grow 5x in the next few years, but this global pandemic has leapfrogged many years to reach that goal today. Forbes predicts “the new normal following the coronavirus crisis will be characterized by low oil prices, the rise of e-commerce, more contactless transactions and greater government intervention.” Panelists from the car industry shared that virtual showrooms for car tours and pick-up and delivery services for car maintenance are already being implemented. Although launched as services necessary during social distancing, they are about to become standard offerings expected by consumers even after the end of the pandemic. In addition, there has also been a rise of electric cars, as consumers feel safer plugging cars to charge at home, rather than frequenting gas stations and risking exposure.
Many of our panelists predict that no matter what, these shifts are accelerated movements forward toward a growth benchmark that we previously thought was years away. In other words, we will not move backwards. This crisis has taught many marketing and digital teams a new skill set: future-planning for multiple potential realities. People came together to create solutions, inspire progress, and comfort each other. Marketers around the world joined on virtual events, podcasts, and webinars much like ours to navigate uncertainty together. Our industry leaders have displayed a remarkable level of humanity during this time. We hope these are positive trends that continue to define us.