Bogdan Stevanovic, founder of digital marketing agency, Aquare, is no stranger to fast-paced change. “Over the last year, the marketing landscape has evolved more rapidly than it has over the last 5 years,” says Bogdan. “Thanks to the pandemic, we’ve seen tremendous shifts in consumer behaviour. Lockdown has been a catalyst for accelerated digital adoption and it has changed everything. We are in new territory. Right now, companies aren’t confident – they’re nervous, cautious…because they don’t know what their customer base is going to do after COVID-19.”
Remote everything – with a conscious
First on the list, and probably the most obvious change, is the adoption of online interaction as the primary business model of nearly all businesses. Remote, digitally enabled experiences and content are the new primary nexus on the customer journey. However, movements like BLM, #metoo, mental health awareness and gender identity mean that this journey places an emphasis on diversity, fairness, transparency, and well-being. If customers feel that the businesses they’re engaging with don’t care about, or aren’t contributing to, broader societal well-being, those businesses are likely to lose out.
More nuanced data and trend analysis
In a time of uncertainty, when customer priorities and buying patterns are constantly moving, being able to collect usable data and get it to predict behaviour is difficult. Bogdan is adamant that moving analytics models to focus on more nuanced customer trends is vital – “Companies that want to keep up with the latest shifts in customer and client sentiment will want to invest in more micro-level segmentation and step up their analytics.” This is something that Bogdan’s own agency, Aquare, specialises in, using micro-level campaign data to achieve macro-level targets and objectives set against business P&L sheets.
Act fast – react faster
As a serial entrepreneur, Bogdan is a an avid exponent of the start-up mentality, something which he says is well suited to the ‘new normal’. He highlights how, “It creates a sense of urgency that leads to the agile action/reaction times that the constantly shifting post-pandemic landscape requires.” Bogdan goes on, “Effective Agile requires a whole new operating model, built around the customer. At Aquare we frequently help businesses work in this way, so that they can respond early and fast to changing customer needs – which is vital, given the many unknowns in a post-COVID-19 economy”.
A more international customer base
Research shows that the amount of people buying staples like food and personal care products online has increased by around 30% since the pandemic began. And with accelerated digital adoption, around 18% of EMEA consumers are purchasing more frequently cross-border. Consequently, it looks like international trade will play a key role in driving business growth in the post-COVID world. Companies should therefore focus on extending their geographic reach, improving online localisation, and investing more marketing spend in those regions where they see engagement.
There’s no doubt that marketing-led commercial innovation will be key to commercial success post-COVID-19. Its implementation will be the deciding factor for the success of many businesses over the next year. In short, this means there’s a huge opportunity for those businesses that make the right decisions now. Companies that can respond quickly and frequently to their customers’ changing needs and build trust with their online users through a data-driven, insight-led approach, will be first to establish commercial success in the post-pandemic landscape.