A consumer awakening: how brand marketing must evolve post-Covid
While we may be beginning to emerge slowly from the Covid-19 pandemic, the so-called ‘collective trauma’ we all lived through has led to a fundamental shift in consumer attitudes and experts believe this change in behaviour is here to stay. So how can your company stay relevant? How should your marketing strategy evolve to meet new consumer expectations? And what skills will you need to stand out from the competition? We spoke to leading academics from our MSc Marketing programme to about the lasting impact of Covid-19 on consumer behaviour, and what new skills marketers will need to bring to their organisations.
The University of London, in partnership with Member Institution, Birkbeck, University of London, offers a fully online MSc in Marketing. The flexible programme gives you the opportunity to develop and hone your skills, applying what you learn immediately to your own marketing job.
Consumers are becoming experts and they’re sharing what they learn with their friends and family.
Dr Manto Gotsi, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Management at Birkbeck, University of London, is the Programme Director for the MSc. She said: “I think the pandemic has been like a midlife crisis for us all. It has brought to the surface all the anxiety that we had before, but our pace of life didn’t allow us to deal with. As consumers, it has also handed us the time to research and learn about the brands we interact with. Before Covid-19 people might not even have heard of Jeff Bezos. Now they can tell you five facts about him, how Amazon treats its employees and the challenges in global supply chain. Consumers are becoming experts and they’re sharing what they learn with their friends and family.”
Dr Benedetta Crisafulli is Senior Lecturer in Marketing, teaching in the areas of Consumer Behaviour and Customer Experience. She added: “Responsible marketing and social innovations have long been considered a marketing fad by consumers – these have been associated with big statements and overpromising slogans. But we, as consumers, now have access to so much information; that makes us more sceptical of, but equally capable of detecting anything that’s not genuine.”
You can’t just have strong selling messages when people are worried they’re not going to have a job tomorrow…Brands have to come closer to consumers and be much more understanding.
What does this shift in consumer attitudes mean for brands and how should you adapt your messaging to stay relevant? Dr Crisafulli explained.
“What we’ve seen from the pandemic is you can’t just have strong selling messages when people are worried they’re not going to have a job tomorrow, or they’re not going to have the money to pay their bills. Brands have to come closer to consumers and be much more understanding.
“The world has changed, consumers are changing – we’re increasingly recognising the issues around us. The social purpose of the brand has never been more important. The fundamental of marketing is about being customer oriented. You must think, ‘who is your customer and what do they want?’ Start with that rather than your product.”
It’s no longer about managing the tension between profit and values – business should be entirely values-driven.
Dr Olivier Sibai is a Lecturer in the School of Management and teaches Digital Marketing and Brand Management. He added: “The pandemic has certainly brought out the softer side of marketing. Our values have moved from an individualistic mindset of ‘how do I maximise my own pleasure and convenience’ to more ethical and traditional priorities.
“In response, brands are trying to show their compassion, both for their customers and for their staff. In the future, businesses will need to systematically integrate their values and societal impact into their practices and demonstrate brand activism. It’s no longer about managing the tension between profit and values – business should be entirely values-driven.”
If you are considering the next stage of your career post-pandemic, Dr Crisafulli explained why now is a good time to gain a qualification.
She said: “Sometimes people who have a lot of experience in the field wonder whether they need a master’s degree. My answer would be that studying will help you to contextualise many of the things you do on a day-to-day basis and help you to bring a much higher, more strategic level of thinking to your organisation.
“It’s easy to fall into the trap of doing things in the way you’ve always done them. This master’s programme will help you to understand and evaluate new ways of working. Understanding the very latest research and theory will also help you to make sure you are making evidence-based, informed decisions.”
You will also benefit from a global network of fellow students, as Dr Sibai explained.
“Most of the students are mature students who come with their own experience, background and knowledge. It helps to make the conversations really rich as you are not just learning alongside your peers, you’re learning from them.”
Find out how you can stand out from the crowd and bring the very latest marketing theory and techniques into your job with the University of London’s online MSc in Marketing.