How COVID-19 has changed the focus on sampling

1st July 2022

The world has changed since COVID-19 took us all by surprise. All businesses were hit by the pandemic as we scrambled to find ways to combat the virus. While the pandemic was an awful and tragic event; for marketing, it showed us some key points were missing from our strategies; however, it also heavily impacted our industry. 

At GottaBe! Marketing it is one of our values to be innovative, which means that we think outside the box and provide unique solutions to your marketing challenges. Within this blog, we will discuss what the pandemic taught us, how we adapted, what has remained post-pandemic, and what is the way forward. 

What did the pandemic teach us about our marketing strategy?

While the pandemic was a tragedy, it did force businesses to be creative to reach their consumers. For marketing, it gave us the opportunity to delve into the digital sphere further. We learned to elevate our game so that we could get our client’s products and services out to everyone in the lockdowns. The pandemic caused marketers to adapt and redefine relationships; the relationships with consumers, influencers, businesses, competitors etc. it made us breakdown these conventional and traditional roles to create connections with each on a more personal level; therefore, creating a community feeling during a time of unease as people were feeling alone and isolated due to COVID. 

The last three years showed us that it is critical to invest in digital marketing. As mentioned in The long Covid effect in marketing and consumer research ‘consumers were forced to temporarily or permanently change their habits and the way they buy, shop, consume, and travel.’ These changes haven’t reverted completely. The article further states that ‘it brought profound changes in the way firms manage relationships and communicate with their customers, and above all, led to severe changes in consumers’ behaviours.’ 

In marketing, we attend events, sponsor events, represent our clients, have face-to-face meetings, network etc. Event sampling is key to getting products out in front of those with the purchasing power. During the pandemic, these events weren’t happening, so marketers and businesses had to get creative to reach the consumers. The wine, beer, and tea industries rely on festivals and events to interact with their consumers. As the pandemic stopped these events, it became crucial to get creative. 

How have we adapted during the pandemic?

Throughout the pandemic, digital became supreme. It was the preferred method and, in some cases, the only method of purchasing things you needed. The pandemic challenged brands to be creative, the consumers were still out there; the trick was finding a new (or a less used) way of reaching them. An example would be with vineyards, consumers go to vineyards to try different wines the question became: how to have that experience during the pandemic? The industry found ways to still market and influence consumers with topical content. Chateau George 7 in France, according to What has the wine industry learned from the Covid-19 pandemic so far? Four key insights ‘turned to engaging customers stuck at home with topical content around food and wine parings through recipes on the website.’ 

The pandemic didn’t stop the wineries from getting creative with their tasting sessions. We all attended one of the Zoom wine tasting parties. How exciting was it to get the wine samples delivered to your house and then log on at the set time to join your mates? From the comfort of your own home, you could still have a meet-up with your friends, family and co-workers while still being safe. Other industries started using this method, a form of in-home sampling. Offices used it to keep teams connected while they were working from home. Has sampling forever changed now that the pandemic is over?  

What has remained in the post-pandemic world?

Now that we are in a post-pandemic world, let’s look and see what has remained since the pandemic. After the successes businesses had in creating new ways to reach their consumers with their products, many businesses are going to keep an aspect of their pandemic type of marketing for those that may not be able to leave their homes. 

As mentioned in Letter from RALIANCE: Society’s Reopening Is An Opportunity to Embrace Change ‘part of reopening is building a better normal, one that’s more inclusive and protects the most vulnerable.’ Going forward, we must be more inclusive as this virus isn’t going to disappear. Therefore, at events, we must be mindful of people’s space and have events that cater to those that would like to be in person and those that would like to participate in a socially distanced manner.  This is where hybrid events come into play, as mentioned in What is a hybrid event in the post-pandemic world: Complete guide ‘…a middle group between in-person attendees, speakers, venues, and remote components like online participation for everyone, no matter the location.’ The key takeaway is, as Rebecca Harmer mentions in Hybrid events in 2022: blending the best of live and virtual in a post-pandemic world ‘…virtual and hybrid events are no longer a substitution for anything else. Nor are they a temporary pivot. Instead, they represent a new reality that unlocks exciting possibilities for many more organizations than ever before to successfully leverage the power of business events.’ 

For most businesses, these virtual events are still a strong component of their businesses. Tom Newbold mentioned in an article about his wine tasting businesses ENTREPRENEUR TASTES SUCCESS AFTER PIVOTING HIS WINE TASTING BUSINESS DURING PANDEMIC he said ‘Whilst the pandemic has clearly been horrific for so many people, it has forced us as a business to adapt and think outside the box, and I don’t think we would have ever developed the virtual tasting side of the business if we hadn’t had to experience lockdown. With everyone shut up inside this proved very popular and we were incredibly busy throughout the period of the pandemic.”

Around the world, people could experience a tasting together. The virtual wine tastings won’t be disappearing any time soon. The reason for this is explained by Ernst Buescher, a spokesman for the Wine Institute, said in Why online wine tastings are here to stay, even after the pandemic is over ‘With relatively little work on the part of the sellers, they can reach a lot of people. It’s a trend that’s risen out of necessity—but online wine tasting will last beyond the pandemic.’ There are different options out there for everyone to be able to experience sampling in their own way. Virtual events will never replace the experience of being in person. 

What consumer behaviour remains after the pandemic? 

During the pandemic, we all had to learn to be flexible and now that we are out of a pandemic, what consumer behaviours still exist. According to The Expectation Gap some of the behaviours learned in lockdown are continuing these include: consumers aren’t turning their backs on those brands that were there for them during lockdowns; takeaway services and meal kits are still desired even though restaurants have opened fully again; about a third of UK and Irish consumers are turning their back on stores to favour online shopping; the high street has changed as consumers have an interest in their local high streets. 

Consumers enjoyed the flexibility they had during the pandemic and would like to see ‘unified commerce’ remain after the pandemic. Several stores created a unified experience for their consumers, whether in-store or online. Robbie Tutt, GM of Digital and Technology at Aesop, said in The Expectation Gap ‘We have a very close relationship with our customers. They know the in-store consultants by name and vice versa. So our challenge was: How do we bring that genuine and beautiful in-store experience to our digital channels? We’ve launched new customer service initiatives such as live chats and video consultations, curbside pick up and click at collect. In this way, we can be sure our customers have uninterrupted access to both our products and expertise. …’ 

The pandemic has been a crisis and forced many consumers to have a look at what is really important to them and brands included. Many brands are underestimating their consumer’s ethical values. 

At GottaBe! Marketing we are an agency that helps you reach new audiences across the UK through creative solutions by combining expertise, local knowledge and connections to create campaigns that get people talking.