After tuning in to an insightful Adweek virtual conference (March 26th), many important points were regarding how brands, businesses and the advertising industry, in general, are being impacted during this global pandemic. One of the topics discussed was whether or not e-commerce businesses can “handle the load” – in other words, can e-commerce handle this much pressure on being practically the only businesses available for consumers to purchase retail or other products? The answer was “a little bit, but not totally”. Brands with strong positioning especially during this time will have a greater amount of following and sales than those that lack a strong sense of positioning. Some brands that rely on products being sold in places like Walmart or Amazon for example, and don’t have an online presence at all will be the businesses most likely to be hurt the most during the pandemic. Brands that offer luxury shopping or rely on their store environment to bring consumers through the doors, will be economically hurt during this time as well, as even a great online presence cannot completely make up for the experience you get while being in the store physically.

According to one of the biggest ways this pandemic is affecting businesses on a large scale is the major disruption of supply chains. The article discussed the effects that these supply chains have on major companies and consumer products that are provided around the globe. For example, Apple saw a major setback in production as one of its main manufacturers, Foxconn, had to shut down most of its production. Apple could see a 10% decrease in iPhone shipments according to estimates by Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo cited by MacRumors (

According to CNBC, the spending of ad dollars could be used towards TV and video games as consumers are spending more time indoors. Therefore, although we will see an impact on ad budgets across many companies and platforms, there will be some opportunity to allocate those budgets towards platforms that consumers use daily while at home.

Now it is especially important for advertisers to pay close attention to their messaging and engagement with consumers. Especially for those smaller businesses being most affected by the pandemic (i.e. needing to close its doors or restaurants having to offer delivery-only services), messaging and connecting with those customers should be at the forefront of their focus and tasks. It is important to keep strong positioning among your consumers as they will be spending much more time on their phones or digital devices than ever before (staying home).

Advertising, for now, will have to be focused more on effective messaging and communication to make sure their brand is known to have goodwill and a ‘real’ tone/personality, i.e, not deflecting or ignoring the impacts of the virus but rather offering services or messaging that can still bring some sort of value to consumers preferably with a reduced price or no price at all. For example, the drawing/painting app, Procreate recently released a ‘Care Pack’. Within this pack, Procreate is offering access to 2 free months of Skillshare (a powerful resource for learning and mastering nearly any skill), drawing prompts for every week to lighten everyone’s spirits and keep them focused on something creative. The purpose of this release was to bring a community together, with drawing prompts that focus on getting to know one another. The package also contains a new limited edition Procreate brush set. This was a very smart and effective way of not only showing consumers they care but also that they are proactive in bringing more positivity into people’s lives during a time of hardship and confusion.

Brands should consider creating messaging relating more around a sense of community being brought together rather than solely focusing on their own specific economic needs. This will boost consumer engagement, increase a brand’s level of positioning in the consumer’s mind, but also will show a great sense of understanding and brand voice. Offering something free, fun to do at home, or something that will bring happiness is never a bad idea, and could quite possibly be one of the best moves for certain brands to make during a pandemic.

Lisa Williams

Author Lisa Williams

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