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The Marketer’s Guide to the Next Normal

August 14, 2020


The Marketer’s Guide to the Next Normal

For months, we’ve been looking forward to when things “go back to normal.” Some of us have asked if we want things to go back to “normal,” and more of us are realizing we’ve left the old “normal” behind.

We’re facing down the next normal. There’s been a seismic shift over the last little while, and it’s clear now that we’re not going back to the way things were—at least not totally. Experts say the pandemic has “killed” the modern office, since it’s revealed that so many of us can work from home. In turn, we’ve invested in home offices, upgrading our equipment, and some employers are letting us expense those purchases. Even employers are looking at this change as a potential opportunity. How much could your organization save by moving to a smaller space and lowering rent?

Consumer behaviour has changed too. Some of those changes are going to stick with us long after the pandemic fades. There’s debate about whether we’ll adapt to wearing masks as a norm in the West. How often will we go to restaurants after we spent so much time learning to cook and investing in our pots and pans?

It’s not easy to know how to navigate these changes. As Marketers, we might feel like we’re learning how to do our jobs all over again. The playbook has been rewritten, so it’s time for us to go to ground and learn the basics of this new environment.

1.  Convenience, Price Sensitivity, and More

The most obvious trend emerging from the last few months is a change in consumer priorities. People are focused on the essentials, especially as they’ve been forced to spend more time at home. Spending is down across most categories, as is consumer intent.

A few categories, like home supplies and groceries, got a bump in intent. Restaurants, by contrast, took a big hit. Few people are keen on going out to eat these days, even if their favourite spot is opening back up.

Price sensitivity is also marked right now. That makes sense; unemployment is high, and many of us are uncertain about our job security. What will our incomes look like as we move away from bricks-and-mortar stores and automation becomes the norm? What roles will people have, and how will they get paid for doing them?

These questions present big opportunities, but they can also be scary! People are hesitant right now, which means they’re tightening their purse strings.

They are willing to pay for a few things, though. One of those is convenience. Being able to order from our couches is convenient. Any gadget that can make cooking easier or reduce time cleaning our houses is going to find traction. Software that automates or simplifies tasks, so you have more time to spend with your family, will also be popular.

Convenience is the byword here, and people will be looking for more of it. This plays into another trend—partnerships and platforms, which we’ll talk about more in a minute. In short, Marketers need to pay attention to demand for convenience and the “sweet spot” for pricing.

2.  The Home as a Hub

Convenience also ties into this idea of the home as a sort of “central command” for most people. Not only do we live here, we also work and play here too.

The last few months have accelerated the trend towards freelancing, remote work, and telecommuting. With more jobs transitioning to remote work, it’s possible that we won’t see a “return to the office” for many workers. Some won’t go. Others will find their employers are happy to make their position remote.

The long and short of this is that people are spending more time in their own homes. That’s put renewed emphasis on making the home somewhere you want to be. Consumers are looking for comfort and luxury, especially in home improvement. They’re also investing in making their homes more “workable.”

In short, we’re redesigning home spaces to be multifunctional. We have separate spaces for work and play, or maybe we have work areas that convert between the two. We’re investing more in our home offices, but also our home entertainment systems and more.

With the home as the central hub for most people, we’ll also need to think about how we advertise to people in their homes. Radio ads are being swapped for Spotify ads. TV ads are going over-the-top (OTT) to reach cable-cutters who have opted for streaming platforms. Digital marketing is going to be much more important than billboard advertising.

3.  Platforms and Partnerships

This next trend also ties in with convenience—think of “bundles” here. People want convenience. They want you to offer them a centralized platform or package that meets all their needs. An example might be a homebuying/selling platform that combines realtors with moving, legal, and financial services.

This integrated platform gives people control over every aspect of the experience. They can contact a realtor, set up an appointment with a lawyer, and submit an application for a mortgage, all in one convenient location. Then they can book their moving service too!

You might even think of a platform that connects people with decorators, cleaning services, and more. The platform makes it convenient to find what they’re looking for, as well as easy to manage.

A gym could offer a similar platform. They could team up with a physician’s office, a physiotherapist, and an RMT to offer booking. You could book a personal training session or sign up for a socially distanced yoga class. Then you can schedule an appointment with your doctor or a physiotherapist.

An app focused on fitness tracking or mental health could also be included in the platform. Even a company offering a food box subscription full of healthy eats could get in on this platform.

These platforms offer consumers the convenience they’re looking for. They create integrated hubs that make it easier for people to find what they want and need.

In turn, Marketers need to focus on partnerships between companies. Can the gym team up with a physiotherapist’s office to offer discounts or packages to help people achieve their fitness goals? These partnerships are worth exploring as you rethink the products and services you offer, as well as how you offer them.

4.  Thinking Local and Getting Personal

Localization and personalization were already trending before we moved into lockdown. We’re going to see even more of it now. People have shifted their focus to the local over the last few months. There’s an amazing sense of community emerging in many places.

People may have had to stick closer to home, but they’re embracing the opportunity to support local businesses. They want to support business owners who are also their friends, workers who are their family members, and other contacts in the community.

We need to adapt to this “think local” mindset. Zeroing in on relationships is the best way to do it. Communities emphasize the relationships between people. That’s why so many people want to support them—we want to help our friends and family! Supporting our communities is key.

Our brands will need to think about how they, too, support the local—what do you do in your community? How do you support the people around you, including your workers, your customers, and everyone else?

One of the best ways to build relationships is to get personal. Emphasize the people you’re working with and supporting. Showcase how you’re helping people make their lives easier or free up their time.

You can also offer customers personalized communications and deals. Personalization lets you acknowledge the uniqueness of someone’s situation.

5.  Reconsidering Channels

Marketers will also need to take a look at what channels they’re using to advertise. Digital media is an obvious answer, but how do you want to leverage that? There are so many options. But competition for spaces is on the rise, which will drive up prices and reduce the number of eyeballs on your ad.

Content marketing, SEO, and organic social media can all be excellent pieces in a revised marketing strategy. Consumers have more time to make decisions about their purchases. It’s easy to toss something into a digital cart, wander off, and come back three days later when we’ve had more time to think about it.

During that “between time,” we’re going to do more research, look for more information. Being able to find that information is key. Connecting with a customer service rep or the social media manager might be helpful too.

Ads are still important, but look for the “missing pieces,” the ones that stress human connection. When you do, you’ll be in a better position to build relationships.

6.  Finding Your Purpose

Last—and definitely not least—Marketers like us need a sense of direction in all this. What are we doing here? Why do we exist in this landscape, and what are we providing for our customers?

You might think you’re selling software, but you’re actually offering a lifestyle revolution. With your app, people can stay connected to their friends and family across the country. Or maybe your app drives automation, which frees up time so people can play with their kids or learn to the piano!

It’s not about the app then. You’re offering something more important, something that your customers value much, much more. That’s your purpose.

So dig deep and discover that purpose as you look to rewrite your marketing playbook this fall. Nothing is the way it was, and all we can do is get ready for the next normal. Start with the why, and you’ll be ready for anything!


Meet Margo…brand visioning & marketing

Margo Jay is a Master Brand Strategist with a career leading globally recognized brands; developing and launching a proven model that maximizes competitive sales potential and consumer appeal. She has built the model to help companies of all sizes. Her Client roster includes entrepreneurs through to Fortune 100 brands: NHL teams, Global QSR brands, CPG brands, Broadcast brands, Agencies, Non Profit brands, Hard goods…this model and process provides competitive advantage in any category.

Complete clarity. Ownable distinct selling proposition. Shared values. Brand Clarity. Brand Focus. Brand Inspiration. Brand Obsession. Unlocking brand potential is what she does.

And it all starts with why!

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