Companies right now are having to get creative in coming up with a Post-Pandemic Marketing Plan (PPMP). Coronavirus has drastically altered the way we all function, but especially businesses. Businesses have had to completely redesign their marketing techniques in order to reach audiences during this time. In a study done by Edelman, statistics showed that 54% of respondents say they do not pay attention to advertisements for products that are not directly helping the virus/pandemic-related challenges.
Keeping this in mind, what are some effective ways to rebrand your business towards the pandemic? Companies like Budweiser, Krispy Kreme, and White Castle are paving the way for brands going forward.
Incentive marketing is becoming more and more popular to encourage Americans to get the COVID-19 vaccine. With proof of at least the first COVID-19 shot, you are eligible to receive a free donut every day for 2021 at Krispy Kreme, free “dessert on a stick” at White Castle, and a free beer from Budweiser. Budweiser brilliantly revamped their iconic 2015 “Lost Dog” Super Bowl commercial to fit the pandemic and encourage people to safely “reunite with buds.” The commercial ends with the incentive that if you upload proof of your vaccination to ABeerOnBud.com you will receive your “first round” on Budweiser. The question that arises with this kind of marketing is: why? Why would a brand care enough to give out free products to those who take the vaccine? Studies show that 65% of people said the way a brand responds during this time will impact their likelihood of purchasing from them in the future. It is important to keep your brand relevant and in the public eye, and for companies like Budweiser, they have chosen to do this by offering rewards for getting the vaccine. Not only does this keep people talking about them, but it shows the public that they are a brand who cares about their consumers. Furthermore, especially with beer, most people don’t stop at just one beer, they order multiple rounds, and if they are already drinking Budweiser, they might as well order another one.
Through giving out free rewards and promos for the vaccination, brands are building up trust that will last even after the pandemic. People are relying on brands now more than ever as the backbone of our nation. An Axios-Harris poll showed that 75% of American respondents said that companies were more reliable than the federal government in keeping America running. This kind of trust keeps people coming back to certain brands and buying from them. While the cost for brands like Budweiser, Krispy Kreme, and White Castle is significant on the front end, the trust that they are building is incomparable. Businesses depend on trust from customers to keep them running, and the pandemic has presented the perfect circumstances for brands to establish that trust.
Now you might be wondering, what about those who are hesitant to get the vaccine or do not believe in it? This is where things get juicy, because while these brands may be establishing trust with one side of the market, they are losing trust with the other. The consensus on if brands should reward citizens for getting the vaccine falls in the middle with 58% of Americans saying that incentive marketing is a good way to encourage people to get the vaccine, while 44% of people claim that it is unfair for companies to offer rewards exclusively to those who have been vaccinated. This creates a dilemma for brands and forces the question of: which customers matter? Do only customers who agree with getting vaccinated views deserve benefits, or does everyone?
How can your business market itself during this time? The best method for marketing during this time, especially for smaller businesses, is to make it known that you care about your community. It is better to stay out of politics, because while large corporations can handle losing a couple hundred customers due to political disagreement, small businesses cannot. Every customer matters! A unique marketing tactic that you can include is to carry out a day where all customers that are vaccinated get 10% off to show that you see them and the strength that they have shown to persevere through this pandemic, or just simply getting involved in your community! Small coffee shops/restaurants can host an open mic or game night where those who have been vaccinated and/or wear a mask can gather and be in community with each other once again. In whatever way you can, you must make your customers feel appreciated and loved, especially right now.
During this time, the core message of every marketing campaign should be about hope. It is important in times like this where it seems we have been bombarded by setbacks and confusion to spread the message that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It is time to re-open those doors and get back to business!