In the last few weeks we have seen that a lot of what we did in physical spaces can be done online: exercising, visiting museums, watching concerts, and wandering around national parks to name a few. Most of it for free too.

But when we eventually get over this surreal moment, will we want to go back to ‘the olden days’, or will businesses have created new customer expectations for all?

Most of us probably don’t entirely want to go back to doing things like before. It’s quite handy having access to everything at our fingertips. But, equally, we’ll need to start interacting with physical human beings again at some point. (We probably won’t be getting another free concert from 100+ artists!)

The New World and the Old World Can Co-exist

Brick-and-mortar gyms allow us to stay fit when we go to the office, but online classes keep us fit when we are working from home, on holiday, or when we simply can’t face yet another bad day of British weather.
Online shopping has been around for years but, with self-isolation, it has opened up a world of possibilities to a generation of elderly consumers that previously used offline shopping to get a bit of exercise. These customers might still want to use online shopping on days when they can’t leave the house.
Online concerts, visits, and tours of museums, galleries, and parks have finally given people with disabilities an equal opportunity to explore and enjoy cultural activities.
So, keeping a balanced mixture of old and new ways of engaging with brands will not only increase convenience for consumers but also provide fairer access to all segments of society.  

It Will Be Costly but the Benefits Should be Worth It

In the space of a few weeks, brands have attracted new customer segments and revenue streams. To name a few: the elderly for online grocery shopping, entire families for online gym classes, and even teenagers for video-conferencing platforms like Zoom (it’s easier to hold a virtual birthday party on Zoom, we’re told). So businesses have a new army of loyal fans in the making that they can cater for now and in the future.  
Some planning will need to go into keeping those customer segments engaged. Brands must: 

  • Analyse who their new customer segments are, what content they consume, how they consume it, and where. 
  • Create personalised content, and include relevant offers and rewards in their loyalty programme. 
  • Adapt their marketing plan to support this progression.  
  • It’s highly likely that business in 2020 won’t go back to how it was pre-COVID-19. But consumers' expectations will not change much either. They will still be looking for empathy, trustworthiness, and excellent customer service.
If you can rally your resources to find a way to bring the benefits of the old world with you into the new one, there are opportunities for your brand to turn this situation into something positive long-term. Even if we need to start paying for a celebrity concert again. 
About Elodie Rodriguez, Consultant
Elodie has worked in marketing her whole career, building brands locally and internationally in four languages. She’s now part of Brierley's London team, advising European clients on their loyalty growth strategies. When off-duty (and not in confinement), Elodie’s on the look-out for new eating spots and cities to explore. Her last visit abroad was a volunteering trip to Ethiopia, teaching English to 4 to 21-year-olds and salsa-dancing.
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