How Marketing Messages Have Changed During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Last week, CommerceNext hosted its Virtual Summit as a forum for information sharing as the retail industry starts to rebuild from the effects COVID-19 has had. Melissa Campanelli, co-founder of Women in Retail Leadership Circle as well as brand and content director, Total Retail, moderated a panel which discussed the impacts of recession on marketing and merchandising messaging and strategy.
Campanelli asked the panelists about marketing messaging and how it has changed, not only since the pandemic began in mid-March, but over the past few months as it has evolved. Courtney Shaffer Lovold, director of client success, Emarsys, explained that since the beginning of this crisis, her and her team had to get comfortable with messages quickly changing and the need to be agile, or risk missing out on marketing opportunities. "We really set the expectation that we were planning for next week, next month, two months, and saying, 'OK, where are we right now? How do we work in what we know or what we have established?'" Shaffer Lovold said.
Shaffer Lovold added that the brands she thought did a good job with marketing messaging were the ones that pivoted, including into charity offerings or DIY tips.
"The content messaging, I think, took one of its biggest turns because it was no longer really good enough to send your two to three digital touchpoints a day around a product when the whole world around you is changing and people are adapting" Shaffer Lovold explained. "The brands that really softened that tone and humanized themselves were able to keep their consumer connected, even when they weren't buying."
Fellow panelist Shawuan Johnson, executive vice president, merchandising and design, Tommy Hilfiger, explained that when the apparel brand's stores had to temporarily close back in March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the company had to pivot its messaging to highlight its e-commerce offerings.
"We really focused on those customers in our database who historically only shopped with us in our physical locations to entice them to shop online," noted Johnson. "From a product messaging standpoint, we really focused on what I call the three C's."
The "three C's" Johnson was referring to are:
- Care: "Customers really wanted to take care of themselves and their families, and it was important for us to message how we were going to do that when they entered our stores," Johnson explained.
- Comfort: This C was related to product, not marketing messaging. "Our team focused on highlighting products that amplified comfort and versatility," Johnson said. Whether customers were working from home or lounging on the couch watching Netflix, Tommy Hilfiger wanted to provide them with comfortable clothing to choose from.
- Connection: With all the uncertainty in the marketplace, Tommy Hilfiger wanted to communicate with its customers about what was happening in the world. Furthermore, the brand wanted to take a stance on the values it believes in as a company.
You can watch the entire marketing panel from the CommerceNext event here.
Ashley Chiaradio is the Senior Content Strategist at Total Retail. Ashley has been creating content for more than 7 years, and provides a unique insight in covering the retail industry having worked directly for retailers in the past. She’s passionate about profiling women leadership in the space.