What Happens to Marketing During a Pandemic?

The global pandemic is challenging corporate marketing strategies, particularly in the financial services industry. The Financial Services & Payments practice at Kaiser Associates frequently hears questions from clients on how best to evolve marketing strategies during COVID-19. Is it time to scale back marketing efforts to control costs or is it time to put the foot down on the pedal?

It is our perspective that the financial services firms that manage to stay useful and relevant during the pandemic are the ones that will be best positioned for growth coming out of it. Utility and relevancy are crucial, as both established hegemons and innovative startups need to avoid being painted as ‘unhelpful’ during the global health crisis, which may lead to irreparable brand damage. This involves delivering new products / services that solve for unmet needs while taking care to communicate in an emotive tone that speaks to the unique socio-financial circumstances that customers are facing. The following are examples of key players across the globe that are doing this well.

Deploying Timely Products / Services: Last month, Starling Bank in the UK announced the launch of the Connected Card, a secondary card linked the primary account that self-isolating clients can share with a trusted family member / friend to handle essential in-store purchases (e.g., groceries). Meanwhile in the Asia Pacific, the gig economy and fintech disruptor Grab began provisioning incremental insurance coverage for freelance drivers that have volunteered to transport healthcare workers. Grab also enabled contactless payments via its proprietary wallet, GrabPay, mitigating need for physical contact during checkout for its food delivery service. In both cases, Starling and Grab are finding innovative ways to update existing product offerings to better support the evolving needs of core users.

Communicating Emotively to Connect with Customers: Nationwide, a UK-based building society, released its ‘Voices Campaign’ over the past few months. The campaign features live poems from current members that touch on emotional themes around the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., family, savings, planning for milestone events) and links back to a message of support from Nationwide at the conclusion. In addition to targeted campaigns, other firms such as MercadoLibre, the Latin American e-commerce marketplace, have re-worked highly recognizable brand logos to emphasize social distancing. In MercadoLibre’s case, the foundational logo featuring a two-handed fist bump has been reconfigured to feature two elbows touching, evoking a message of solidarity through clean hygiene. Collectively, Natinowide and MercadoLibre are demonstrating an ability to adapt quickly and flexibly to changing circumstances, a prized commodity during the current global pandemic environment.

Our blended approach to market research and strategy consulting can provide insight into the evolving needs of your customers, helping financial services firm stay relevant during these highly dynamic times.