COVID-19 has halted business as usual and become an impetus for transforming individual companies and whole industries, including the luxury market. Here are 4 simple and deeply significant sea changes every business needs to prepare for.
1. Shift from vendor to resource
The biggest currency your brand has right now is trust. The way you treat your customers today will lay the path for your relationship with them tomorrow. Will you be seen as just another vendor or a valuable, trusted resource?
For example: Gucci is providing surgical masks and medical overalls, LVMH is processing hydroalcoholic gel, and Jaguar Land Rover is giving 160 vehicles to fight the spread of COVID-19.
Bain & Company anticipates that 2020 contractions in the luxury market will be between 15% and 35%, but that companies can “mitigate the threat and accelerate eventual recovery” by transforming their value proposition.
Give some thought to how you can:
- Be more proactive and less reactive
- Show greater flexibility and less rigidity
- Go one step beyond business as usual
- Emphasize serving over selling
Do right by your customers in this time of crisis, and they’ll stick with you when times get better. Don’t, and you risk losing them as soon as things ease up.
2. Scrap the shiny object and embrace substance
The COVID-19 crisis has shown that people are hungry for useful, relevant, high-quality content. The best brands will win by being substantial (not just shiny) in overall messaging, content, offline/online representation, and results.
What’s the main focus of your branding and marketing today? Create a content strategy based on a robust editorial calendar with topics of concern and interest to your specific audience(s).
3. Shift from live or virtual to live and virtual
Even with the widespread acceptance of virtual solutions, online is still considered the stepchild of live and in-person. Post-crisis, fully integrated virtual and live experiences will be the norm. Done well, they will enhance each other, ultimately bringing brands a bigger audience.
Are you taking advantage of all the virtual options for your business? How can you integrate virtual into your business today in ways that will reach into tomorrow?
4. From Drunk Marketing© to Sober Marketing©
In the irrational exuberance of the day, brands often find themselves swept up in the latest and greatest. As in…
- You have to do Facebook ads. You could sell a million dollars of product.
- If you’re not on Instagram, you’re missing the boat.
- Podcasting is hot.
I call this phenomenon Drunk Marketing. It’s based on hope and hype. Post-crisis, I believe businesses will seek Sober Marketing, characterized by research, experience and reasonable assumptions.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve conducted research on “Luxury Lifestyle” for a real estate client. The research revealed three specific insights that have shaped their brand marketing strategy including the majority of conversations on the topic took place on Twitter, the largest group discussing the topic were entrepreneurs, and their biggest interests were real estate, apparel, and cars.
As a result, the company: will focus social efforts on Twitter using #LuxuryLifestyle and related hashtags, curate content relating to the top interests and host a Twitter chat on those interests, using the hashtags.
Voilà, Sober Marketing—a small amount of research, married to experience with a dash of reasonable assumption.
What criteria do you use to make your tactical marketing decisions? Create a 3- to 6-month overall Sober Marketing strategy, review every two to four weeks, pivot as needed, rinse and repeat.
What’s a business to do in the face of such dramatic upheaval? The solutions are as simple and deeply significant as the changes themselves.
Karen Tiber Leland serves in an advisory capacity for REALM and is the founder of Sterling Marketing Group, a research, brand strategy and marketing implementation firm whose clients include: LinkedIn, Apple, American Express, Lufthansa and Google. She is the best-selling author of nine books, which have sold more than 450,000 copies. Her latest is The Brand Mapping Strategy: Design, Build and Accelerate Your Brand. Karen writes a regular column for Inc.com and hosts the Thought Talk podcast on iTunes. She has been interviewed by The Today Show, CNN, Fox News and Oprah and spoken for Harvard, Yale, and TEDx, among others.
She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on her website at