Now, more than ever before, marketing opportunities exist for brands to understand and respond to customers’ changing needs.

A recent article in the MIT Sloan Management Review (May, 2020) points out that marketers should think about solutions, not just products. Incumbent brands may rely on how they are different from competitors.  However, opportunities lie in how brands can be differentiated for customers and what they value. And what customers value in many product and service markets is changing.

The fact that things have changed means it’s time to re-visit customer needs.  Brands have an opportunity to reach out to their customers, listen to what they say, and determine if their attitudes, values or needs have changed. Do these changes call for modifications to what is offered? Where it’s offered? How it’s communicated?

A recent survey by Ketchum of 3,000 Americans found that nearly half (45%) said “their brand preferences have changed.” Furthermore, a larger majority (63%) “expect that their brand preferences will change permanently before the pandemic ends.”

There are numerous experiments going on right now showing how brands are trying to appeal to these changes.  DSW, for example, is opening mini shoe shops inside some grocery stores. The biggest US mall owner, Simon Property Group, is encouraging its retail tenants to use contactless payment apps like Apple Pay.   Macy’s is going to require all customers to use hand sanitizers before trying on jewelry or watches.

Covid-19 has changed has also changed what it means to be clean. The Wall Street Journal reports that “many homeowners are hiring companies with specialized tools and chemicals to disinfect their homes” to protect themselves, particularly if they had to quarantine in one area of their home after coming into contact with a person who was infected.  (April, 2020)

The hard-hit hotel and travel industries are also reacting to the new meaning of cleanliness.  Marriott advertises its use of hospital-grade disinfectants for all surfaces, the placement of disinfectant wipes in all rooms and air purifying systems. Contactless booking, check-in and room keys are all available from travelers’ mobile phones.

Hilton’s new “Clean Stay” program advertises its partnership with RB and industrial cleaning brands Lysol and Dettol “that brings over 200 years of cutting-edge science and research in human health.” Disinfecting of guest rooms and public areas have all been upgraded with more focused and frequent cleaning to provide “a cleaner stay from check-in to check-out.

US airline carriers are expanding cleaning procedures with electrostatic spraying with an EPA registered disinfectant along with increased disinfecting and sanitizing procedures for food contact and all catering products. High touch areas like seat backs, back pockets and tray tables are also receiving more frequent cleansing.

Against this backdrop of changing customer needs there are new opportunities to connect with customers. Listening to what your customers want, knowing how to better position your brand, and innovating to meet new needs are priorities for a successful business today.

Call Mary Beth directly to assist you in meeting today’s customer needs. (202)-255-3070