For commerce practitioners, be it on the manufacturer, platform or agency side, 2020 has been a mixed bag. For many, it’s come with great gains — think food brands scooping up shoppers who could no longer eat out or wellness brands working the frontlines at home through flu and cold medication. That spike was definitely welcome, but has also come with major responsibility. Commerce is being asked to compensate for the drop in offline sales, with limited resources and more fierce competition online.
To win in this challenging environment, understanding what consumers are thinking in terms of time and feeling when it comes to emotions and spending can be the difference between effectiveness and dumping budgets blindly behind traffic.
The Collective Body Clock is Out of Whack
Reminder: it’s October. I don’t blame you if that was news. Research done in the U.K. showed that 80 percent of people report a distortion of the passing of time due to lockdown. Some have thought it’s been long, while others have felt time has flown by — the only consistency across those surveyed is that the passing of time has been inconsistent for everyone.
So, as we enter the last quarter of the calendar year — host to most major shopping occasions (Halloween, Cyber Weekend, the holidays, etc.) — it's up to marketers to reset and remind consumers of what's ahead and what it has typically meant to them.
People’s Minds Are One Big Mess
Research put out by McKinsey tracking people worldwide through COVID-19 demonstrates that we're currently juggling three big emotions: acceptance, apprehension, and anticipation. To put that simply, it's an emotional roller-coaster in our minds at all times — if you're not chill, paranoid and antsy all at once, is it even 2020?
The same research also shows that the most growing emotion is annoyance, like a fog of frustration that now follows us daily.
People will need more clarity than ever to counteract the constant juggling, to give themselves direction and get on with restarting their lives.
As marketers, we need to be mindful of our messaging, offering up more binary yes/no, easy decisions. Making products easy to buy from within articles mentioning them, product display pages that clearly align with the brand campaign and reduce friction to add to cart, and efficient response mechanisms to customer questions at all touchpoints will be key to being part of the solution, not the current foggy problem.
Trauma Affects the Wallet
eMarketer research shows that 74 percent of millennials — the grizzled vets who lasted through the Great Recession — are actively budgeting their money down to the week, with 64 percent of them claiming to have set clear financial goals for the next five years.
Gen Z, the group with the bad rap of being happy-go-lucky despite having had a front row seat to huge income inequality and societal injustice, aren't far behind. Sixty-five percent of them claim to budget weekly, and 54 percent have clear financial goals for the next five years. Pretty thought out for your average 21 year old if you ask me. But that’s the name of the game: fiscal responsibility and being your own safety net.
Both groups’ No. 1 anxiety is their career, as reported by eMarketer, closely followed by their financial future and family’s welfare. They clearly are taking on a lot of pressure, and it will show in their spending.
As marketers, it will be on us to demonstrate value. Adopting CRM-type thinking, with customer lifetime value at the core of everything that we put in front of them, will be key. Taking a hit today to be their ally and constantly thinking about the commercial relationship we aim to build with them will deeply impact what we do and what consumers do in return.
Ultimately, as we all hope to reset into a manageable life where we live with this pandemic while waiting to eliminate it, we must be mindful of what consumers are thinking, feeling and doing, and make sure it directly informs what we think, feel and do as well. It's up to us to reset a clear calendar, offer up easy decisions, and adopt CRM-type thinking. In our marketer-platform-consumer equation, people are the most delicate input, and they may currently be more delicate than ever.
Ali Amarsy is senior vice president, global product strategy lead, Publicis Commerce, a company powering the total commerce experience, working with clients in all categories to deliver sustained business growth.
Ali Amarsy is senior vice president, global product strategy lead, Publicis Commerce. In his current role, Ali Amarsy is responsible for shaping the commerce offering in 20+ global markets. He works closely alongside partners such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and Snap to help Publicis Groupe clients achieve stronger commerce outcomes.