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10 Truths About Marketing After the Pandemic


It’s safe to say that 2020 was a year like no other and that we will certainly not revert back to the old normal soon. So, as marketers think about building brands during this year and beyond, what should we take away from the pandemic? What can we do to help companies grow faster? And how is marketing being redefined in the age of Covid-19?

Asking and answering these questions is critical to marketing success in the months and years ahead. Over last several months I’ve been comparing what I’ve learned from two decades working in media and marketing with what we’ve all learned during this single year of epic change. In particular, I’ve identified 10 ways in which the pandemic challenged critical truths about marketing and gave us a new set of rules moving forward.

1. Old truth: Marketing begins with knowing your customer.

New truth: Marketing begins with knowing your customer segment.

The Covid-19 crisis has reinforced what we already know: that brands must communicate in very local and precise terms, targeting specific consumers based on their circumstances and what is most relevant to them. That means truly understanding the situation on the ground, country by country, state by state, zip code by zip code. For some businesses, such as banks, restaurants, or retailers, it may even mean tailoring communications store by store.

Beyond geography, we have learned marketing messages need to be personally relevant, aligned to an individual’s situation and values, as opposed to demographics, such as age and gender. Creating a personal, human connection within any commercial message requires defining consumer segments that describe people according to multiple dimensions that influence their purchasing behavior — from their psychographics to attitudinal characteristics.

The EY Future Consumer Index, which has conducted five waves of research with 14,500 individuals in 20 countries since the start of the pandemic, has identified five different cohorts of consumers:

Affordability first (32% of consumers): Living within their means and budget, focusing less on brands and more on product functionality.

Health first (25%): Protecting their health and that of their family, choosing products they trust to be safe and minimizing risks in the way that they shop.

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