International Marketing News: The Impact of COVID-19

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Discover the latest international marketing news, from worry-free strategies for luxury brands to delivering helpfulness through your app.


International Marketing News: The Impact of COVID-19

What’s the latest news in the world of international marketing? In this update, I’ll be talking about the impact of COVID-19 on international markets around the world, from how coronavirus has affected economic growth in Ireland, to what companies should be doing to be there for their customers.


How to deliver helpfulness through your app

Now more than ever, people are turning to apps to stay healthy, productive, connected and informed, which means that companies are looking to adapt their app strategies to be there for their customers.

In his Think with Google blog post, Lowell Doppelt provides examples of “brands that have been successful in pivoting their app experience during the coronavirus situation to deliver the assistance users are seeking.” As part of his analysis, Doppelt notes how brands are:

  • Responding quickly to meet market demands. With cities around the world facing lockdown restrictions, many people are looking for ways to stay healthy and active at home. Take Down Dog, for example. They are a fitness company that offer custom yoga classes to thousands of users, and the brand is now providing free access to its suite of apps too. They have also focused on providing assistance to global markets most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

As Down Dog Founder Carlos Ormachea notes:

“France, Italy, and Spain need a lot of help right now…and because we dynamically generate the content, it was relatively quick to translate all of it. More than 400,000 people have downloaded our app in those areas in the last few weeks.”

  • Expanding partnerships and rethinking marketing goals. Ruangguru, an Indonesian educational technology app, is partnering with a local telecom company to offer free online courses and 30GB in free data. Ruangguru successfully shifted its app strategy to focus on PR, with an effective remarketing campaign to target its most engaged users – even being recognised by President Joko Widodo in his nationwide address.
  • Extending help to service providers and partners. Over the past month, Wolt – a food delivery app in 22 markets in EMEA – has rolled out a series of changes to support users, local businesses, and its employees. This includes introducing a contactless delivery option, waiving restaurant commissions on pick-up orders for 30 days, and highlighting local independent restaurants on its app.
  • Adapting to new user needs. Nextdoor is a local app that is designed to help neighbours stay connected and share information, seeing an 80% month-over-month increase in daily engagement as users turn to the platform to rally around their communities. To increase assistance during the coronavirus pandemic, Nextdoor has created new features aimed at responding to immediate needs; for example, sending notifications to encourage users to review new guidance from trusted public health officials.
  • Communicating often and sensitively. During these uncertain times, it’s important for companies to engage with users as they respond to these shifts, providing clear context for the changes they’re making. As Doppelt notes:

“Apps have long been powerful tools to connect people, build relationships, and drive loyalty. At a time when people are seeking reliable assistance and relevant information, be there with helpfulness and dependability they won’t forget.”


How has coronavirus affected economic growth in Ireland?

As marketers, we’re all aware of the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on economic growth, and Ireland is no exception.

With a large proportion of economic activity coming to a standstill, the national unemployment rate has significantly increased to 5.4%, according to figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO). Some of the most at-risk sectors, including retail, hospitality and construction, are expected to report up to 500,000 job losses before the end of April. Workers who can work remotely, such as those in financial services, are at a lower risk of losing their jobs, making them crucial for the Irish economy.

So, what does this mean for specific industries in Ireland? In his blog post on the impact of COVID-19 on economic growth in Ireland, Yusuf Allinson outlines the impact on automotive, retail, property and travel sectors:

  • The Irish automotive sector has been hit particularly hard by lockdown measures. Sales were showing a downward trend prior to the coronavirus outbreak, with new vehicle registrations falling by 63.1% in March 2020. With many consumers facing employment uncertainty as a result of the pandemic, expenditure on non-essential items, such as new vehicles, is likely to remain low in the short-term.
  • While the automotive sector has seen a sharp decline in revenue, Irish supermarkets have reported an increase in demand – with Tesco and Musgrave employing thousands of people to meet higher in-store and online requests. Lockdown measures have also led to higher expenditure in the ecommerce industry, with a higher proportion of customers projected to spend more online after the measures are eased.
  • Property and travel. Major commercial airlines, including Ryanair and Aer Lingus, have seen a decline in revenue due to many countries closing their borders. The Irish property market has also been affected, with estate agents forced to halt operations. As a result, major mortgage lenders have agreed to offer payment holidays for households affected by the economic crisis across Ireland.


What retailers are doing right now to be there for their customers

With so much uncertainty currently surrounding COVID-19, retailers are facing many tough decisions. Whether it’s changing business hours, closing stores or protecting front-line employees, companies are aiming to ensure that public health is the cornerstone of their choices.

In their Google we Think article, Sarah Travis and Shankar Desai recognise that “many retailers are looking to their peers for how they can do more, especially since more than half of U.S. consumers want to hear how brands and companies are responding to the current situation.” They also note some of the ways they have seen retailers be there for their customers, employees and communities during this uncertain time:

  • Be current and transparent. Consumers are looking for practical information that is relevant to them, so it’s important for businesses to provide prompt updates. For example, sustainable fashion brand Reformation informed customers that while it’s closing its stores, it is continuing to pay its staff.
  • Ensure product safety. Many retailers are examining each step in their supply chains to ensure products are safe for employees and customers. Lifestyle brand Groove Life implemented product quarantines on items being shipped from impacted regions, and let customers know that these extra precautions are its way of helping keep everyone safe and healthy.
  • Show up in new ways. While businesses are attempting to adjust to this new situation, so are their customers. This is why many retailers are now changing how they operate to ensure people can get the products they need in new ways. US “essential” retailers such as Target, Whole Foods and Safeway have allotted dedicated time slots for elderly people, pregnant women and people with disabilities to gain access to the store before the general public.


Worry-free strategies luxury brands can learn from China

As China begins to show signs of recovery, Chinese retailers and businesses are offering clues as to how certain smart moves can lead to fundamental market changes in the future. Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, economy narratives had been taken over by the “green economy”, aimed at reducing environmental risks and focusing on sustainable development without degrading the environment.

But what happened to the green economy as a result of coronavirus? In his blog post on what luxury brands can learn from China, Tanguy Laurent notes how:

“From a branding perspective, this was the existing context when COVID-19 struck, and venture capitalists had been looking for a branding revolution to tap into ecologically responsible business. But now, the current crisis has given birth to a new branding revolution — one that’s only hit China thus far and that few understand.”

This new branding revolution has come to be known as the “worry-free economy”, which focuses on unmanned delivery, enhanced online services, and friendlier offline touchpoints. But what are the ways that retailers are turning to worry-free strategies?

  • Firstly, contact delivery has become the new norm. Customers are worried about infection, so orders are now placed in a designated pickup spot.
  • Secondly, brands are now turning to livestreaming. Consumers are bored and eager to explore and engage.
  • Thirdly, real-time sales work best with product launches. In a recent Adidas Originals stream, consumers were able to make real-time purchases of featured items from their mobile phones, resulting in $28 million worth of sales.
  • Finally, rethinking private domain traffic on social media is now key to creating close consumer relationships.

Are you considering a worry-free strategy? What are the values issued from it? Let us know by tweeting @clickthrough.


If you’d like to discuss any of the latest international marketing news included in this update, get in touch with our experts today.

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