Why post-pandemic marketing is going to mean big wins for some businesses – while others will sink fast

Well, we’ve almost made it. The last year has been unique, to say the least. With COVID-19 locking
down large parts of the world, the pandemic his impacted the lives of millions of people. The world
we’re moving into, that some call the ‘new normal’, is very hard to predict. What we’ve been seeing
at my agency, Aquare, is that consumer behaviour patterns are very different to before – and they
are still flux. That means that businesses that want to see success over the coming year will need to
reassess their marketing strategy. But right now, those businesses aren’t confident. We’re in new
territory – and it’s right to be nervous, and cautious. What are our customers’ intentions? What are
they going to do next? Here are five areas I think all businesses should be focusing on from here on

The socially-conscious online customer journey

Right now, digitally enabled experiences and content are the new primary nexus in the customer
journey. The pandemic has seen a massive increase in the frequency of online interactions,
engagement, and in particular, purchasing. However, seismic shifts in the cultural fabric of society,
thanks to movements like BLM, #metoo, mental health wellbeing and gender identity, mean people
are becoming more conscientious about brands’ contribution to the broader wellbeing of society. In
other words, businesses need marketing to send the right signals to tell customers why they should
care about them.

Better social listening

Customer priorities and buying behaviours are shifting at the moment, so they’re very hard to
predict. At Aquare, we’ve begun to use more and more micro-level campaign data to keep up with
the changes, and we’re helping our clients focus on social analytics so they can identify more
nuanced customer trends. This continues to prove successful for businesses adopting this approach.

An agile operating model

Once a trend has been identified, companies need to be able to react fast and get that customer
journey started before sentiment shifts again. Aquare frequently helps its clients establish processes
that allow them to launch new marketing campaigns every few days. We find that an agile, iterative,
test-and-learn model is the most effective way of achieving objectives in this scenario. But such a
model needs to be 100% built around the customer, evolving as the data does.

A greater investment in e-commerce

Thanks to the health risks and the limitations placed on in-store shopping throughout COVID-19,
90% of companies have seen their online sales increase, with over 50% claiming it has grown by over
. This is why companies need to be investing, right now, in their e-commerce. We’ve seen it
many times before: customers gravitate towards personalisation and a seamless multi-channel
experience. Now, more than ever, if businesses aren’t doing this effectively they will lose out to their

International sales

New international purchasing trends have emerged as a result of the pandemic: 20-40% more
people in Western Europe
are now buying food and personal care products online, and 12-25% of
EMEA consumers
are buying more frequently across borders. Businesses should be developing their
online reach and looking across borders for patterns they can target with marketing budget and


In-app ordering and purchasing has skyrocketed during COVID-19. So did app use (around 20%).
Companies that, pre-COVID, that paid very little attention to app development have now come to
rely on it. Apps serve as a social distancing tool, reducing in-store wait times and alleviating queues
at peak hours. What’s more, the research shows that apps also generate increased engagement and
retail spend

In the post-COVID economy, there’s huge opportunities for businesses that can respond quickly (and
frequently) to consumers’ changing needs. Only by listening closely for trends, and continuing to
build trust with their online customer base through a data-driven, insight-led marketing strategy, can
businesses thrive in the ‘new normal’.

Bogdan Stevanovic