Everybody in the world is aware that we are in the midst of a pandemic. Some marketers have adopted the attitude that there’s no reason to beat consumers over the head with this information, and in fact, are shying away from any mention of the coronavirus in their messaging. There are some positives to this approach.
Nobody disputes the seriousness of COVID-19. But at the same time, not all businesses have come to a grinding halt (though many have been forced to get creative with non-traditional selling methods). The question on some peoples’ minds has been, should I be promoting my products and services in the midst of a public health crisis that is decimating the economy?
Data shows retail sales dropped 8.7 percent in March—the biggest monthly decline in 30+ years of tracking such information. April’s numbers (not in yet) are sure to continue the downward trend. Desperate retailers and marketers have had to turn to online shopping in order to stay not just relevant, but alive. Figuring out how to sell to nervous consumers who are under a constant barrage of bad news is the tricky part.
The best way to do that, some feel, is to avoid reminding consumers of the negative events taking place while championing the message that “we’re all in this together.” In case you’re wondering, yes: acknowledging a crisis without explicitly mentioning it is a very fine line. It’s easier for some brands than others; apparel chains, for example, have focused their ads on indoor living, social distancing and videoconferencing, promoting casual clothing perfect for working from home.
Not everybody’s product is so easily adaptable to such a dramatic lifestyle shift, and shifting from ads that state “buy our product” to those that say “these are challenging times for us all; buy our product” isn’t a very effective strategy. Some marketers are shying away from any mention of coronavirus at all—even those who are well-positioned to promote working from home or taking care of families. This means avoiding ads showing people in attire that is too casual, and focusing instead on bright and cheerful images in order to promote positivity and help reduce stress and anxiety.
Keep in mind that brands are aiming for authenticity while trying to provide consumers with an escape from the negativity surrounding them at all times. Learn how to walk that balance yourself and you’ll reap the rewards.