According to most recent data from Worldometer, the coronavirus has impacted over 1 million individuals worldwide -- 240,000 of which are located right here in the United States. Unfortunately, according to many experts, we have yet to even near the peak.
COVID-19’s impact has devastated individuals and families as well as the workforce, businesses, industries and the global economy as a whole. The marketing and technology industries in particular are currently reeling from the after-effects of the pandemic.
However, the cold hard truth of the matter is that we as individuals, businesses and the world in general must continue to press on. If you’re interested in learning more about the impact of COVID-19 on marketing and tech as well as what you can do to ensure your business shines in the midst of the chaos, then this article is just for you.
The Effects of Coronavirus on Marketing, Advertising & Retail
The unfortunate truth is that the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the marketing, advertising and retail industries has been devastating. In China alone, retail sales have dropped by more than 20% due to the pandemic, which has additionally caused the unemployment rate to spike to over 6% in February.
According to the Washington Post, in the United States alone over 10 million individuals have applied for unemployment benefits in the wake of the economy’s collapse. As a result, everything from retail sales to organic traffic and conversions have declined significantly.
However, there’s one industry in particular which has been booming. While brick-and-mortar retail sales have plummeted due to social distancing measures and closures, online sales have been increasing, with many shopping and grocery apps seeing a significant uptick in downloads. Many companies are quickly learning that a renewed focus on the customer is the key to sustainability in these trying times.
A renewed focus on customer-centricity
Marketers and advertisers will do well to take this information into account when redesigning their strategies in the midst of the pandemic. For many, an overarching theme has come to light: A renewed focus on customer-centricity. Many companies are quickly learning that a strong focus on long-term retention rates is the key to success.
Research has shown that it costs a whopping 5x more to bring on a new customer than it does to simply keep an existing one. The truth of the matter is that there is very little business to win during this time period. Companies must redirect themselves away from a focus on acquisition and towards a renewed focus on retention, building long-lasting relationships and increasing the lifetime values of their customer base.
Remaining sensitive to your customers’ needs during this time period is going to be crucial to your success and ability to thrive in the future. It’s going to be difficult to turn a profit now more than ever as unemployment rates soar. Don’t waste your resources trying to implement new and fancy marketing strategies which can come off as callous. Pause and take a moment to reflect. Many families have lost loved ones, many parents don’t know how they are going to continue to pay bills or put food in the mouths of their children.
As a company, it would be irresponsible and insensitive not to acknowledge these trying times your customers are facing. Strategies must be adjusted and perspectives must be shifted to take into account context. Now more than ever you are walking a very fine line and as a result, marketing with sensitivity is going to be imperative. Instead of focusing on acquisition, focus on improving the customer experience throughout the entire sales pipeline, both on and offline. Instead of mirroring the sense of panic and dread that your consumers are feeling, become the embodiment of support that they need.
Acknowledging the pandemic and assuring your customers that you remain steady in your ways is also imperative. As a company, you want to provide reassurance to your customers by showing them that you’re here for them and that you are dedicated to providing the same level of service to them that they have become accustomed to in the past. Your customers need to know that they can count on you during hard times. When you demonstrate this with your actions, you are effectively instilling trust and forging stronger relationships with your customer base. The public is paying attention to business practices now more than ever. Show them that you measure up.
The Impact of Coronavirus on Tech
The vast majority of all industries, including technology are seeing a marked slump in sales due ot the outbreak. As unemployment rates rise, consumers are now more than ever wary of spending their dollars given the uncertainty surrounding the timeline of the pandemic.
Travel booking website Expedia is one of the many companies out there who have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. They recently declined to provide a full-year financial outlook to investors because of COVID-19’s disruption of the travel industry and recently slashed over 12% of their workforce. Mass supply shortages, missed partnership opportunities and delays in services have now become commonplace.
Perhaps the most immediate business impact of this pandemic has been the major disruption of supply chains all across the globe. Hardware companies in particular have been hit quite hard given that so much of their manufacturing is done in China. According to the business research firm Dun & Bradstreet, a whopping 51,000 companies studied have at least one or more suppliers based in regions of China which have been impacted by the spread of the virus.
Apple in particular came out publicly stating that there would be a reduction in supply of iPhones. This comes as no surprise as Apple relies heavily on factories in Shenzhen and recently had to come to terms with Foxconn, their primary manufacturer, shutting down most of its production in China. Unfortunately, this has resulted in quite the hit to Apple, which is forecasted to see a reduction of as much as 10% in their iPhone shipments through Q1.
Tech giant Microsoft also relies heavily on customers who install their Windows software onto their devices. They are expected to take quite the hit as personal computers account for approximately one-third of their revenue.
Amazon on the other hand has found themselves scrambling to make sure that they don’t run out of popular products which are manufactured in China. However, many customers are being hit with messages about supply shortages and delivery delays for many popular items due to the pandemic. Prime Day falls on July 6th of this year.
The spread of the coronavirus has prompted the establishment of numerous social-distancing mandates by governments across the globe. One result has been countless missed partnership opportunities which otherwise would have been made possible through the attendance of some of the most important tech conferences across the world.
Most notably perhaps is the cancellation of MWC Barcelona, a global telecommunications trade show held annually in Spain. While the RSA security conference still took place, it suffered the absence of notable attendees such as IBM, AT&T and Verizon.
Facebook also was forced to cancel their annual Global Marketing Summit as well as their F8 conference, where they showcase new products and plans for future software to developers.
Other companies are switching it up a bit in an attempt to keep the party going. Google shifted their Google Cloud Next event to online and IBM decided to livestream their developer’s conference. According to recent data by Recode, the cancellation of major tech events has cost the economy a whopping $1 billion.
While many companies are still reeling from the fallout of COVID-19, there are a select few who have continued to thrive.
Netflix's year-over-year subscription growth in both the United States and Canada is expected to more than double what was previously estimated.
As the public continues to abide by social distancing mandates, ecommerce and grocery apps have begun to experience record numbers in terms of daily downloads.
On March 15th, Instacart saw a whopping 218% increase when compared to download activity that happened in just the previous month alone. The company claimed that their sales had improved a massive tenfold during the first week of March as compared to the previous week.
Walmart’s grocery app also saw a 160% increase in app downloads and Target experienced a 98% month-to-month growth.
Steam, a global PC gaming platform as noted to have attracted a whopping “20.3 million concurring users on Sunday March 15th”. This number set an all-time record for the amount of users online at any given time according to SteamDB.
But perhaps the most notable company to have come out swinging during this time period is teleconferencing software company Zoom. Shares have skyrocketed over the past few weeks as more and more individuals are forced to continue their work from home.
On an interesting note, the SEC recently had to step in when it was noted that many investors were purchasing the wrong Zoom stock.
All-in-all, the tech industry has been dealt quite a tough hand during these hard times. However, many companies in the sectors of gaming, ecommerce and home entertainment have been hit with substantial growth and continue to thrive in the midst of economic uncertainty.
There’s no denying the fact that the current outlook on the economic landscape is grim, to say the least. Supply shortages are running rampant, companies are going under, lay-offs and unemployment have skyrocketed, and social distancing mandates have impacted us in more ways than we can count.
However, there is a silver lining. In the midst of the chaos comes a heightened sense of awareness for consumers and their needs. Companies are quickly beginning to shift their focuses in these trying times in order to make a positive, palpable impact on their customer base, showing millions of consumers worldwide that they are more to them than just a dollar sign. Now is the time to reframe our perspectives, to view this as an opportunity to think out of the box and re-dedicate ourselves to a stronger focus on customer-centricity. Take the time to show your customers that you are here for them during these hard times, and they will cherish their relationship with you for years to come.
How has COVID-19 impacted you and your business? Share your story. We'd love to hear from you.