Although consumer habits changed during the lock-downs, many small local businesses in the Caribbean still think advertising is unnecessary. They argue consumers don’t have enough to spend in the current economic crisis. Or they assume business-as-usual will have their customers return naturally.
This, however, is not true. Consumer habits have changed fundamentally. Post lock-down consumers are safety conscious, spend cautiously, have high expectations from the businesses they buy from, and demand new advertising models.
1. Consumers are Safety Conscious
First, the lock-downs have made consumers ‘safety conscious’. They want safe products, safe services and expect social distancing. Before they re-enter your location, or buy by take-out or delivery, they want to be reassured that you are a ‘safe option’. They expect updates about the measures you take to secure their safety.
For small local businesses this translates into using social media to communicate their social distancing measures. Do this repeatedly with clear photos and clear captions. Also, don’t forget your in-store. Use distancing signage, have plenty of soap dispensers, deep clean your store during business hours, have your workers wear face masks, install shields at your counters, and disinfect your swipe machine after each transaction. In short, visibly communicate your marketing efforts to show that you understand that consumer habits have changed and to regain consumer trust.
2. Consumers Spend Cautiously
Second, your customers have become cautious about spending. Faced by unemployment and furloughs and fears about financial security, customers have gone into a buyer strike mode. Gone are the days of buying on impulse. Or the days of instant consumer gratification. Say hello to consumers who think twice, sometimes thrice, before they buy. And to consumers who consider several options. In general, your customers have become pickier.
This means that, more than ever, local businesses need advertising. Showcase the high quality of your products, your reasonable pricing, your excellent service, or any other brand element to convince your customers that you are their preferred supplier. Otherwise, surviving the economic crisis will be very difficult. Keep in mind that historically, businesses who remained visible during an economic crisis were able to survive, while businesses who didn’t create marketing visibility eventually disappeared.
3. Expectations of Consumers have Changed
Third, the expectations of your customers have changed. They demand empathy. They expect local business to understand the hardships they face. When looking for price-quality products, consumers now ask themselves: does this product show that they understand my situation? If the answer is no, your product will not become their preferred option.
This change in expectations is the biggest challenge local businesses in the Caribbean face in the post-Corona era. They have to walk the fine line between being visible to become preferred supplier and being empathetic. Relying on advertising strategies used in the last decade will not work. For example, using social media to emphasize bling, luxury or hedonism could be interpreted by your customers as insulting, because they don’t have the means anymore to live the good life. On the other hand, advertisements of sales, could be dismissed as low-quality products by consumers who think twice before they buy. You would not become their preferred supplier. In short, you will need a new strategy and a new tone of voice to meet the expectations of your customers.
4. Advertising has Changed
Fourth, your advertising messages have changed. This is the result of point two and three mentioned above. Staying at home made your customers reflect on their consumer habits. And they have decided to buy only from ‘meaningful companies’. Meaningful is determined by the empathy a business shows, by their involvement in local efforts like the Food Banks, and by the quality of the products they offer.
More than ever before, small local businesses must rethink their core values, and need to translate those in new advertising models that ring true with their customers. A new tone of voice will have to be developed, and you may need new media channels to communicate the meaningfulness of your company. Companies that succeed in developing new advertising models will be more able to survive the economic crisis.
Advertise to Survive
Historically, businesses that advertise during an economic crisis survive. They use their marketing to become preferred supplier, and simultaneously build consumer loyalty to benefit when the economy picks up. Understanding the changes in consumer habits, increases the chance that small local businesses in the Caribbean survive the economic crisis.
Contact us now, to find out how you can increase your marketing visibility, even if your marketing budget is small.