The number of new COVID-19 cases per day in Malaysia dropped to a single digit in the RMCO phase. However the sense of hope was soon replaced with anxiety as the country faces a third wave of the pandemic. The impact on the economy and livelihood is grim as CMCO is implemented in several states and cities. Daily new cases are fluctuating around 1,000 per day with 1,755 new cases recorded on 6th November, the highest number of new cases in a single day since the pandemic.
The future of local industries is uncertain as recent cases have surpassed figures in the previous waves. By now, consumers have adapted to online purchasing rather than physical shopping, and people are generally more alert in crowded places such as malls and transport hubs to avoid infection. Businesses need to also adapt to the new norm instead of expecting things to revert to the pre-pandemic era. For this purpose, it would be useful to refer to the changes and strategies employed in the early phases of MCO.
1. Automotive Industry
While the current movement control is not as strict as the initial phase, there are still far less vehicles on the road compared to 2019. As unemployment rates soared and working from home became part of the new norm, consumers find themselves with minimal needs to remain mobile. This resulted in reduced usage of vehicles and interest in purchasing new vehicles.
Despite the physical limitations, brands have succeeded in creating virtual experiences and maintaining constant communications with their community.
Automotive brands could consider creating contents addressing the following:
1. Educate their existing and potential customers on ways to maintain their cars and vehicles during movement control.
2. Provide virtual test drives for new car models to attract prospects in high risk zones.
3. Stay engaged with consumers with relevant topics to remain at the top of mind.
2. Real Estate Industry
With the majority of the population being confined to their homes, the lifestyle of the people has also changed to adapt to the situation. People are finding interests and activities to do at home, and upgrading their living space.
While physical home viewing is prohibited in some areas or greatly reduced, consumers are now also able to virtually view and purchase their new property. Brands have been maintaining contact with their communities with lifestyle contents relevant to the people’s coping mechanisms during lockdowns.
Real Estate brands may consider creating contents about the following:
1. Guides on how to buy properties online. The virtual home viewing experience can be used to retain the interests of potential buyers.
2. Light-hearted and relevant content angle, especially on things to do at home. Contents that relate to users generally garner higher engagements.
3. Content designs with real life elements or videos are statistically more effective among audiences, especially for PSA or CSR activities.
4. Tips on home maintenance such as how to save on electricity bills or DIY furnishings that consumers can try their hands on.
3. Food & Beverage (F&B) Industry
In terms of food consumption, the trends have changed from dining out to being focused on food delivery and home cooking. F&B outlets have now adhered to social distancing in their premises while most encourage takeaways. While this arrangement has narrowed down the available food options, consumers have become more selective and health conscious with their food choices especially for home-cooked meals.
Over time, brands with strong digital presence and engaging social contents managed to penetrate the households bringing their products into the homes of consumers.
Brands from F&B industry may consider the following ideas:
1. Create videos or live streams of recipes sharing and cooking on social media platforms or brand websites.
2. Promote products or recipes with immunity boosting ingredients. If delivery options are available, creating ads or providing promo codes can generate further interest.
3. Highlight contactless delivery in adherence to social distancing and assure customers by communicating on social channels.
4. Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) Industry
Panic buying in the first Movement Control Order contributes to the sudden surge in FMCG’s interest and sales. Further to that, social chatter reveals that consumers are more likely to buy in bulk now to stock up as opposed to individual purchases. Buying patterns from households is also more planned seeing as only the head of household is allowed to buy groceries and the shopping trips decreased in frequency.
FMCG brands have also pivoted their communications to relate to consumer lifestyles and therefore present themselves as top of mind in their category. Collaborations with other industries are also observed with positive responses given the versatile nature of FMCG goods and brand persona.
The FMCG brands could consider creating content as following:
1. PSAs and tips on safety and savings, especially when doing grocery runs.
2. Creative recipes that consumers can make at home using brands’ own products.
3. Leverage trending topics and create similar contents using brands’ own products.
How each industry adapts to the changes depends on the consumer behaviours and current trends, but the main adaptation observed is in maintaining communications through relevant trends. Brands that are unable to adapt will fade from the sights and minds of their consumers.
As the third wave of the pandemic continues, it is crucial for businesses to keep a vigilant eye on not only their own industry but also how other industries correlate with their offerings. Collaboration across industries or diversifying the brand offerings are also expected to give the brands’ marketing efforts a boost.
Written by: Wisesight