As we find ourselves living in the time of the global COVID-19 pandemic and adapting to the new normal of social distancing, it means that as businesses, the “buckle-up and wait-it-out” approach is not feasible – especially for the challenging times some of us already endured in 2019.
While there are no silver bullets and a perfect way out, here are three ways managements should consider as they attempt to stay relevant during this time:
Media spending – Don’t spend less. Just spend smart.
The easiest decision is to stop spending altogether because “business is bad” – and it’s very understandable in an attempt to cut costs and just survive this tough period. The key here however, is not to necessarily spend less, but to spend smart.
As we go into full social distancing mode and spend more time at home, we spend more time on media like television (According to a March 2020 Nielsen’s report on COVID-19’s impact on media usage in North Asia, Hong Kong recorded a 43% YoY increase in all-day all-time rating in February) and online (Matt O’Grady, Global Commercial President of Nielsen Media predicted on March 31 that we will watch 60% more video content). Even radio is making a come-back in the US based on a Nielsen survey.
Outdoor and offline media will inevitably take a hit, but there are more eyeballs than ever on the internet.
“The knee-jerk reaction from advertisers at a time of crisis is typically to pull back or defer spends; however, COVID-19 is characterized by a situation where increased time at home means expanded media time and heightened consumer attention,” - Ranjeet Laungani, North Asia Nielsen Media.
Think people might spend more time on tablets and desktops now that they are at home? Not necessarily. Our own Yahoo data on the Hong Kong market shows that both tablet/desktop and mobile usage rose, but the gap between did not shrink, mobile still leads the way.
Content – News, Lifestyle, and what else?
Two main type of contents is shining and trending now – either utility ones, such as news (Nielsen reported a 120.8% YoY increase in TV news/info channel consumption; Yahoo News sees a 71% increase in site visit), cooking recipes (dalgona coffee, anyone?) or your daily work-out challenge; or content that provides entertainment value, such as mini games like bingo on Instagram, 9-real-and-1-fake-job-I-had-previously challenge on facebook, stay-home outfit-of-the-day – either help people be useful, or help them pass time.
Think about the audience too. Adults and children are staying home and they need to look at something, and as children need to keep learning, adults seek to keep up with their yoga or work-out regiment, families look for recipes to cook together and so on – it is prime time for you to share your knowledge and expertise. Take our own Kids Channel as an example, co-created with reliable publishers and renowned education specialists, the 90-minute weekday Kids program covers lessons ranging from language to sports, STEM to music, cookery and arts, has fetched 1.5M streams from nearly 500,000 viewers since its launch in early April.
Conversion – Use shop-able content to enhance the purchase journey
Having a shop online is the obvious answer, but don’t necessarily build an elaborate one yourself, leverage on off-the-shelf e-commerce platforms like Boutir and Shopify as an interim solution and quickly get started – the key here is to quickly get back onto the market.
If your products or services cannot be delivered completely online, at least re-think your processes to see what can be put online – take a page from fashion boutique’s playbook – they have long been snapping photos of their collections and showing them on social media – their physical store is mere a collection point. There’s now a fancy name for that – buy-online pick up in-store (BOPIS).
With a functional eCommerce engine, give it the proper push with smart native promotion where you capitalize on people consuming content related to your offer. Statistics from Yahoo’s shop-able content show that average click-through rate hovering around 8-9%, with special discount listings achieving over 50% - remarkable achievement in normal days, but particularly important during these rainy days.
Bottomline: COVID-19 is making it tough for businesses and their finances, but do not lose sight of your customers – they might have changed but they are still there. It’s up to us to transform and respond.