How COVID-19 Changed 2020's Marketing Trends

adapting on a whim

When we wrote a blog post in October 2019 forecasting marketing trends for 2020,

we were blissfully unaware of what this year actually had in store. To recap, the top four emerging trends we had our eyes on were: content marketing, interactive content, videos and micro-moments. Though these stayed true, the pandemic has changed the way we do absolutely everything — marketing included. Here are the top four adaptations we’ve seen marketers all over the world make to keep their brands relevant and running as normal as possible.

1. Virtual everything: The biggest and most obvious change. Companies used to throw events to promote new products, create a buzz around their brand, obtain media coverage, strengthen relationships with stakeholders and more. But now that events are currently not a possibility, virtual is the new normal. An example of this is the NBA’s virtual fans initiative that allows fans to watch their favorite teams play from the virtual stands. However, going virtual doesn’t just apply to events… Gyms began to offer online classes to keep their customers in shape while staying home. Video calls are the backbone of keeping schools and businesses running smoothly. Even photoshoots have taken place via FaceTime. The most shocking part of this all might be that doing everything virtually is surprisingly easy! “Virtual everything” may be here to stay.

2. Quick adaptation: If there’s one thing the world has learned during this time, it’s the need to be able to adapt for anything, and marketing was no exception. Usually, content calendars and marketing campaigns are planned months in advance, but something that was considered appropriate to post months ago when the calendar was created may not be appropriate during COVID. Messaging needed to be quickly adapted to be in tune with what the world is going through. The majority of content coming from brands was compassionate and sympathetic, which would not have necessarily been the case pre-COVID. The agility of the marketing industry to modify everything on a whim shows just how much it is really capable of.

3. Ad spending declined: It’s estimated that brands cut back $50 billion on ad spending amidst the pandemic. Brands would allocate a large portion of their budget toward social media ads for a number of reasons including to reach a wider audience, boost brand awareness, increase product sales, or increase website traffic. This means they had to go back to the basics and produce organic content while still keeping their engagement rates high. Which leads to the next point…

4. Increased Social Media Use = The Need to Stand Out: While the whole world was under stay-at-home orders, social media was one of the few sources of entertainment. The Harris Poll found that 51% of adults significantly increased their social media usage between March and May. So while more people were on social media, brands increased their posting frequency in attempts to better stand out. But, declined ad spending and increased content is quite the oxymoron. Brands needed to protrude amid the content increase organically. One example of this is fashion influencer Danielle Bernstein from @WeWoreWhat. While most companies merely posted a statement saying “We are here for you during COVID-19,” Bernstein stood out from the rest by actually being proactive. She has a following of two million and used her platform to bring light to multiple struggling small businesses a day to help them get business when they needed it most.

By rethinking strategies to keep brands present on social media during the pandemic, the marketing industry proved to be able to adapt on a whim. While it’s still unknown how COVID-19 will continue to affect the world, it is clear that marketers will be able to keep up. This trying time is proving to be a pivotal moment for the marketing industry, and we encourage you to keep an eye out for any future shifts. To learn more about our marketing services, contact us today.