What the Future Holds

Issue 7: What the Future Holds

Written by Peter Rosenwald

Want to know what the future holds? He may not have a crystal ball, but our industry expert has some ideas about what we can expect to see in a post-pandemic future.

Read Peter’s previous post to find out what marketing news he’s been reading.

What the Future Holds

Don’t we wish we knew what the post-pandemic future holds? Even as we see our commercial worlds beginning to open up, what I said last time still stands – what we all can be certain of is that tomorrow is most unlikely to look anything like yesterday.

So, let’s try and imagine what the post-pandemic future will look like for all marketers whether you are selling higher priced goods like automobiles, home appliances, health and fitness equipment, medical supplies and services, or lower-priced consumer goods. Because creatively imagining the new normal in this new environment should help us to slough off what is best left on the scrap heap of the past and to concentrate on the myriad opportunities of the future.

The World Keeps On Spinning

First things first… It may seem obvious, but all of us are going to continue to want and need all kinds of things, and the economy is not going to grind to a permanent halt. However, what we decide to acquire in the future may vary from our historic shopping lists.

We will certainly discover new ways of finding, evaluating and paying for our needs and desires, but there is no way we can do so without housing, transportation, healthcare, communications, entertainment and education to name only the most obvious. That’s true of all demographic groups although to different degrees. Instead of gym memberships, we may choose to do more exercise at home. If working at home, instead of purchasing a replacement SUV, we might decide to scale down to a smaller and more economical vehicle. The questions are going to be how we get them, where we get them and what do we decide we don’t want or need anymore.

Two New Types Of Consumer

As reported recently in The Guardian, “The future implications of corona virus are still uncertain. But based on what we know from previous outbreaks, we can predict that this pandemic will have profound psychological effects on the people living through it.” The Guardian also notes that, “We’re living through the first global pandemic in the digital age, where the internet has made it possible to withdraw from the outside world.”1

Some people will stay withdrawn and some will come charging out after isolation. Psychologists would say that a very big differentiator among consumers is likely to be those who emerge from the pandemic with limited or little concern about the continuing risk of viral dangers and those more cautious souls who bear the lasting effect of social distancing, masked or unmasked.

These two different psychologies are certain to respond to very different marketing stimuli. Understanding that is critically important in deciding what data you want to rely on to help accurately target different cohorts. For example, you may want to dig down and add analysis of factors that signal whether customers and prospects are risk-averse and will opt for security over novelty or convenience (“I didn’t have to spend hours in the dealership”) over involvement. We are going to have to weigh factors we may never before have considered and find which data sets give us the needed insight. That is not necessarily a bad thing.

A Different Roadmap To Follow

As one audience expert made clear, “customer journey maps are going to have to change. If you’ve taken the time to go through a customer journey mapping exercise, you’ll find there are new journeys to map and a few to throw out. The business process and workflow are changing to adjust to the new ways customers are buying and how companies are supporting those customers.”2

As we all know, the digital age pre-dated Covid-19, but one of the consequences of the pandemic has been the incredible acceleration of its impact on our lives. Even normal users of online shopping had little realization that we could view and purchase, with electronic payment and no-contact home delivery, virtually anything from cars to fresh groceries.

And, a growing number of the remote workforce who, having been compelled by the pandemic to work from home sometimes with a beloved pet sleeping happily under the desk, have found that it beats the hell out of commuting to a cubicle in an impersonal office building. Many will continue working that way. Working from a home office has proven not only doable but often more productive, reducing the questionable use of time in endless meetings.

Equipment and supplies these workers may need and services to support this new commercial geography (think the “gig” economy of Uber Eats, DoorDash and WeWork) will define new customer journey maps and present new marketing challenges. To meet them, we need to get rid of some of our pre-pandemic certainties.

Our New Normal

Post-pandemic predictions from Forbes suggest, “The important thing now is to adopt the ‘new normal’ and adapt along with these changes to make the continuation of doing ‘business as usual’ safe for everyone.”3

It certainly won’t be business as usual. Now is the time for imagining what it may look like and how to turn it into a success.

I’d appreciate your thoughts and ideas. Please leave them in the Comments below or email them to me at insiderscorner@infocore.com.

1https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/apr/07/life-never-return-normal-coronavirus-shape-generation
2https://www.forbes.com/sites/shephyken/2020/06/07/post-pandemic-predictions–june-2020/#6c813677bd5c
3https://www.forbes.com/sites/shephyken/2020/06/07/post-pandemic-predictions–june-2020/#5bd208717bd5

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