It’s been more than 470 years since this phrase credited to French theologian John Calvin first appeared. Since then, it’s been restated by others and used in at least one play and several songs. It now appears that the phrase will apply to COVID-19 and change many businesses and lives forever.
Heightened sensitivity and awareness to sanitation and the spreading of diseases may likely force many businesses to replace their once popular touch screens regardless of the frequency at which they’re cleaned. How many consumers would be willing to patronize brands and use shared spaces like touch screens after the pandemic is over? What about high volume venues like airports and fast food establishments?
This is something CMOs may wish to address and adjust to sooner than later. Some observers believe even more consumers will rely on their smartphones because of this heightened consciousness. Making it easier and more convenient for consumers to conduct business on their phones will give brands an advantage over others who don’t.
CMOs working for brands that are relying more on apps should anticipate and prepare communications addressing an anticipated backlash over the layoffs of employees affected by such changes. Similarly, smart devices are beginning to perform tasks employees used to do like loading dishwashers, making French fries and flipping burgers. Some community repercussions need to be anticipated and successfully managed.
The future of reusable bags, once the darling of environmentalists, could be at risk. Now banned at many merchants because of a study that said they can remain contaminated, plastic bags have returned. However, the study has come under suspicion because it was performed by a lab that also represents large plastics manufacturers. The study did add that washing the recyclable bags would eliminate the problem but how and who would monitor that?
The number of neighborhood mail collection boxes has been declining and is expected to continue, particularly in light of USPS’ financial bleeding and the lack of support in Washington. This makes it even more critical for brands to make other forms of payment easy and accessible to consumers.
Dial-up subscriptions have been declining and broadband usage accelerating since 2013. The latter now has 70% saturation. The pandemic sped it up even more with distance learning and increased online shopping. These and news that providers like Verizon are no longer accepting new dial-up subscribers make it imperative that brands encourage their dial-in consumers to transition to digital. Offering an incentive might help speed up the process.
Good news for brands! Unlike the above, one thing that is expected to improve is the frequency of electrical blackouts. This is attributed to continued improvements in the electrical grid system and the rise in solar equipment in homes and industries, including storage batteries.
What this means to marketers is that consumers have more reliable power to browse and shop online. What it also means is awareness and attentiveness by brands in knowing when their customers are least online. This is when they should update websites and perform other online changes and maintenance.
One thing that will not disappear, but which marketers must continue to be aware of is consumer privacy. CMOs must continue to be transparent and assure consumers that their data and privacy will be honored.