How brands can address the hyperdrive impact of COVID-19 on ecommerce

The ‘Brand Chi’ — communicate, humanise and innovate — ecommerce brands need to follow to sail through these turbulent times amidst COVID-19.
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Why do consumers buy branded products? Because with every purchase, they don’t just consume a product, but also relate to the emotions, images, and the promise attached to the brand. It connects to their hearts and minds. And this connect ultimately decides whether a brand will turn out to be average or great!

While the world is in the middle of an unprecedented crisis, brands can look at it as an opportunity to augment their promise, instead of going into hibernation or attempting short-term means like heavy discounting or doing a flurry of needless activity.

But how can they achieve this?

By following the ‘Brand Chi’. ‘Chi’ as per Chinese philosophy denotes life-breath or life energy that flows through all things. So, what’s the Brand Chi?

Communicate

While people are dedicatedly ensuring social distancing, they are also constantly connected to each other through various social media platforms. Much of this is attributed to the easily accessible internet and several other video conferencing tools that enable people to seamlessly interact from the comforts of their home. So, it’s obvious that digital media is going to play a greater role, if not the primary one, for communication.

It is, therefore, essential for brands to leverage ‘owned media’ such as social media, website, and free channels like SEO to increase their digital footprint in the current times. They should invest time on the basics – like optimising the content on their website, providing information or easy access to relevant materials and products, and using emails and apps to add value to their customers.

While striving to expand their reach through the above organic means, brands should also use different social media channels, such as Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, TikTok etc., for driving engagement among different groups of customers in different content styles. Clearly, brands need to reshape their existing communication channels and bank on the opportunities that digital brings to the table.

Humanise

As mentioned earlier, brands need to have an emotional connect with customers to win their trust and build loyalty in the process. But how can they do that? Let’s start with understanding who the customer is. Usually, most marketers spend a lot of time initiating and reading through complicated research studies to figure this out.

However, first and foremost, it's critical to understand that customers are humans, like you and me. So, treat yourself as the first customer of your brand. The way, a brand makes you feel is mostly how it will make anyone else feel too.

Once you’re able to articulate this feeling, you can frame the brand proposition and keep finetuning it as you progress. Continuously building on this brand proposition is critical for the long-term health of the brand. Brands that follow this approach, gradually develop a strong emotional connect with their customers and eventually become iconic brands. Reaching this stage equips them with better understanding and tools to even withstand any kind of crisis more efficiently; in fact, they normally come out of the crisis even stronger.

Brands should, therefore, adopt this methodology in the on-going crisis as well. The important things that customers look for right now are comfort and nudges in the form of right products and communication. Hence, it’s the perfect time for brands to show that they genuinely care about their customers.

Innovate

As customers’ requirements evolve rapidly at the moment, brands must take the route of innovation and use more such tools to serve the customer. Understanding these changing customer requirements and incorporating the same in one’s products and offerings is important and will yield significant benefits in the long run.

For instance, a soft drinks brand may create a new beverage that boosts immunity. An ecommerce firm can endeavour to provide hygiene services at home. These are real innovations, which will bring customers closer to the brand like never before.

But while doing so, ensure that you stick to the brand proposition. Sometimes it’s easy to just launch any new product or service which is relevant to the customer, but not in sync with the brand proposition. These launches eventually fail.

Apart from this, always remember to frame your message in the right way. Because people will not appreciate hearing something insensitive or opportunistic at this moment.

And finally, use a simple and effective creative to communicate your message. Gone are the days when long TV or digital ads were the only way to build a connection with customers. Just short and crisp pieces of content – be it a video clip or a simple text message – is enough to communicate effectively.



So, give further life breath to your brand at these vulnerable times. While ‘Brand Chi’ is valid for all situations, following it in a mindful manner can work wonders at this juncture.

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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