Consumer sentiment has always been an important tool in businesses arsenal, allowing owners and managers to pump up production, plan ahead or adjust their output depending on popular opinion. But perhaps it has never been called into question more than during the current pandemic, when the economy came to a grinding halt and only now has begun to turn the cogs again.
Even without the current climate, times are still changing and moving forwards. The needs of customers are continuing to change, meaning that consumer sentiment is a key part of your marketing strategy.
Of course, some sectors have fared better than others throughout this unprecedented crisis, but ecommerce has never been more popular. You only have to look at Amazon’s 40% revenue increase to begin to understand this. However, the factors behind the success of Amazon and others is far more than just a case of ecommerce being the most easy and viable option available. It plays a huge part of course, but competition is still fierce and ecommerce brands tapping into consumer sentiment have still had to navigate a variety of new and changing behaviours.
In today’s world, customers like to be involved and have a say right from inception, which is something brands seem to be catching on to. Brands now more than ever, often take to social media to ask for their followers’ opinions on products and services, and even use their opinions to shape the style or experience new customers receive on their website for instance.
Using the likes of Instagram stories and polls, brands can connect with consumers directly, finding out exactly what they want, or more importantly, what they don’t want. Although brands have had to digitalise everything much quicker than they maybe anticipated, it is important that they remain personal in their approach. Their online presence still needs to have a humanistic element to continue the connection with their customers.
Take women’s activewear brand Sweaty Betty for instance, more recently, they’ve listened to their eco-customers' needs and have introduced initiatives that have turned landfill plastic into leggings, offer a recycle your leggings scheme in UK stores and over the pandemic, they introduced free zoom sessions for customers which focused on wellbeing. All of which resonated the human and ethical ethos of the brand.
Being people-led and audience orientated is an important part of business and meeting the needs of consumers is paramount. Whatever the consumer needs, a business should be offering more than simply the product. Consumer circumstances change often, whether it’s financially, or they are looking to meet the needs of their work-life balance, or even relaxation. Sometimes, they may need products or services that are more accessible and longer lasting – all of which can be provided digitally.
Answering consumer’s needs
If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it’s that everything can be done online. Brands should be offering entertainment for their consumers by providing great content on their social media channels.
Sports brands such as Gymshark have done this brilliantly, by regularly providing their audience with exercises and workout videos as well as their high-quality active wear.
During the UK lockdown, online fashion retailer In The Style provided products which answered the needs of customers on furlough or working from home. They saw the need for loungewear and collaborated with a number of celebrities on several occasions on this category, surging their products to sell out in a matter of days.
Over time, social media has become a community, and is continuing to do so. With people setting up virtual book clubs, quizzes and games nights, it has provided a brand-new platform for brands and businesses to market on, in the form of Zoom. A great way of keeping a human element to an often-faceless brand is through personalised video messages and thank you videos, making consumers feel a sense of importance.
The values of brands should sit in line with those of the consumer. With ethics, social and political issues as well as the environment all at the forefront of consumer’s lives, brands should be using this to truly connect with them. Ecommerce in particular, has had some lessons to learn that show a continued eco-conscious vibe from consumers.
In a study by ecommerce solutions provider PFS, 73 per cent of UK and Irish consumers reported an expectation that online retailers use recyclable, innovative and sustainable packaging, with healthy and hygienic packaging at the top of users wish lists.
Recognising the lack of sustainable fashion brands on the market, social media influencer Grace Beverley created her very own. TALA is an ethical fashion brand made from recycled plastic bottles and factory offcuts, meeting the needs of its audience perfectly.
AirBnB has been one brand within the travel industry that has seen to have the right characteristics in its marketing efforts. Aiming to inspire consumers, the business offered images of its stunning spaces free to download and use, guaranteeing engagement and brand awareness.
Furthermore, the firm also put human connection at its core, posting a series of unique online activities, from meditation with a Japanese Buddhist monk in Osaka to coffee lessons in Mexico City, for users to engage with.
Brands have a powerful opportunity with their offering and effectiveness in terms of referral. While many of us have been unable to meet and greet face to face, the spoken digital word has only increased the importance of a friend’s seal of approval in a company, both in its services and its mentality. In particular, ecommerce shopping will remain popular for a long time and those retailers that can take into account human connection, generosity, sustainability and wellbeing will remain at the fore to reap the profits.
Awareness and adaptation are two rules that allow brands to connect with their consumers. Brands should do their upmost to remain aware of their consumers needs and do their very best to adapt their products and services to meet them. More than ever, brands have to get their marketing right in order to attract sales in a tough market, and many of those getting it right have displayed certain characteristics for others to follow.
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