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Brief Published: 17 Jun 2020

Campaign Connect 2020: Responding to Consumer Constraints

Campaign Connect

Global marketing magazine Campaign's virtual conference, Campaign Connect (June 2-3), featured thought leaders from across industries exploring how brands can successfully address the stresses and constraints of consumer life in lockdown.

Understanding consumer constraints is the core strategy for effective marketing right now, according to John Burke, chief marketing officer and president of Bacardi Global Brands. He pointed to how its Bombay Sapphire gin brand quickly adapted its current campaign around consumer creativity to the realities of lockdown with online platform Create At Home.

"We created a whole series of consumer experiences where you could have a cocktail and go to a virtual art gallery [in partnership with Saatchi]," Burke said. "These were things that we never would have thought about doing, had we not understood the constraints that consumers were [under]."

From an advertising perspective, the breakdown of daily routines was seen by Maria Koutsoudakis, brand and marketing director at UK telecoms company Vodafone, as one of the most crucial disruptions for creatives to acknowledge. "Drivetime has gone, appointment TV has gone, so how do you optimise [throughout the] day when [consumers are] always on?" she commented. "There's less of a rhythm and routine – we need to see how much of those rhythms come back [post-Covid]."

At Stylus, we'd argue that appointment viewing is actually an increasingly powerful way for brands to connect with consumers unmoored from their regular routines – see Music in Lockdown, Retail Meets Media (part of our Dynamic Youth: Gen Z Spotlight) and State of Media: 2020 Update for more.

Nonetheless, consumers are clearly not reachable at traditional touchpoints right now. This is a key concern for retail brands of course – particularly those in luxury and beauty previously reliant on bricks-and-mortar experiences. Umesh Phadke, president director of L'Oréal Indonesia, discussed how the company reskilled its workforce (on how to do virtual consultations, for example) in two weeks to adapt to this new consumer reality. "And today, with social commerce and e-commerce put together, even though almost 90% of our luxury business distribution is closed, we are able to recover 60% of the business," he said.

The constraints imposed by lockdown were seen as fuel for innovation across the board. Jaime Robinson, co-founder and chief creative officer of US agency Joan Creative, commented on increasing input from diverse talent as a result of its process going virtual. "[We're seeing] diverse talent that isn't coming from the usual places, [resulting in] a new realm of talent having a seat at the main table for the things we're making," she said. "That's something we shouldn't give up as we hopefully progress towards 'normality'."

For more on advertising and marketing response to consumer shifts during lockdown, see Covid-19: Brand Initiatives for Life Interrupted, and Covid-19: Crisis Comms Tactics.