With no end in sight to the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have worked endlessly to pivot and switch up their marketing strategies during this challenging period, as well as understand the evolving customer habits. The Malaysian government recently announced that the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) will be extended to 31 December this year. As such, brands will have to continue marketing and running campaigns, while at the same time figuring out what consumer behaviours and needs will be like in the new normal.
Dentsu Aegis Network Malaysia identified nine new consumer behaviours informed by widespread digitalisation under the MCO and heightened sensitivities to health and financial security. The study, conducted in collaboration with Vase.ai, utilises data gathered from DAN’s M1 panel and surveys consumers twice post RMCO to determine if these trends are transient or lasting. It ran from 21 July to 10 August.
Here are the nine new consumer behaviours that brands should take note of:
1. Health and wellness - holistic believers:
The pandemic has forced Malaysians to make healthier lifestyle choices to build lasting immunity. The study found that Malaysians spent more time on websites and mobile apps promoting fitness and diet compared to Southeast Asian neighbours and consumers in China.
Known as holistic believers, most of these individuals are aged between 25 to 34 years old (28%), followed by those aged between 15 to 24 years old (24%). They look for clear, demonstrated value of health products and services and 95% agree that organic products are healthier. They also engage with digitally-served health and wellness content, as well as positive reinforcement messages.
Platforms to target them include sports retail stores, fitness centres and gyms, health food stores and spas.
According to the study, two-thirds of consumers will expect future products and services to be designed in a way that enhances their well-being. Given people’s reticence to visiting public places for the foreseeable future, many health interventions will need to be delivered via digital technologies.
2. Travel - wandering daredevils:
More than half of Malaysians (56%) are opting for domestic travel, while 71% still do not feel safe enough to go anywhere with existing daily COVID-19 cases. For these wandering daredevils, the study found that escape is a form of sanctuary and they have plans in place for as soon as travel restrictions are lifted. A bulk of these individuals (59%) live in urban areas while 71% of them are male. Meanwhile, 59% of individuals who experience wanderlust are married.
The study said that brands should focus on upselling natural places where there is room for safety distancing and plenty of fresh air activities to domestic travellers.
Brands should also build alternative travel packages around the existing ecosystem, such as hobby holiday adventures or WFH extended hotel stays.
Creating immersive travel experiences online and using personalised messaging will also attract travellers. Meanwhile, the best platforms to engage these group of consumers include travel websites, cultural and festive events, luxury shopping sites, and personal financing websites through content that acts as a guide for planning around travel uncertainties and restrictions. Deals welcoming tourists back are also a draw for this group of consumers.
3. Leisure and entertainment - resident digital:
Consumption of digital media has jumped during the lockdown period, with consumers turning to virtual events such as live virtual concerts, mobile gaming parties, virtual travel fairs and virtual meetups. The primary goal of this new consumer behaviour is convenience, connected-ness and transparency for greater trust. Consumers are mainly from the urban area (50%) and are between 15 to 34 years old. They are also mostly married (59%) and are male (62%).
According to the study, it is best to communicate solutions to daily pain points in bite-sized and easy to understand formats. Brands can also offer tools and know hows on ways to produce better content. The best platforms to engage with consumers in this area are Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Twitch and lifestyle websites.
Additionally, brands should engage consumers at different points in their journey with context and specificity, and scale up eCommerce and brand building efforts to deliver positive experiences across digital channels.
4. Retail - click and brick shoppers:
The study found that since the MCO, monthly visitor traffic for Shopee and Lazada have surpassed the annual physical footfalls achieved by the largest shopping malls in town. These group of consumers, which the study labelled as “click and brick shoppers”, are mainly males (60%) and are aged between 25 to 34 years old (31%). They also have a monthly household income of more than RM3,000 and have one to three children (41%).
Brands are advised to embrace digital technologies to engage consumers in-store, and use CRM and marketplaces better to optimise online performance.
Content such as fashion, beauty, film, F&B and automotive are suitable to garner their attention. Meanwhile, platforms brands should be using to reach out to them include social media, YouTube, search engines, and online newspapers.
5. Education - super-engaged mothers:
Online learning seems to be the norm amidst the pandemic and brands targeting mothers need to connect on an emotional level, with virtual honour campaigns that recognise her and reinforce her efforts in developing her children.
The study added that brands engaging children online with smart apps gamifying their development, adding 'shoppertainment' content or partnering education hubs stand to gain.
With more underaged children online, brands also need to safeguard against harmful content by using tools and metrics that automatically block harmful videos and posts. To target the super-engaged mother, brands can try social media platforms, online newspapers, review sites and magazines and EDMs. The content should ideally revolve around healthy lifestyle, fashion, food and drinks, local news and films. According to the study, the super-engaged mother comprises urban mothers aged 30 to 55 years old with one to three children (84%).
6. Career - resilient life-hackers:
The gig economy is most likely here to stay as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, the study said Gen Z is no longer convinced that higher education will pay off with a full-time job security. Meanwhile, Millennials, which form the bulk of the existing workforce, have to adjust to salary cuts and lay offs.
According to the study, more gig workers taking on jobs that may be client-facing but they may not fully buy-in to brand values or have long-term loyalty to the company. This might hinder their ability to treat customers with the level of quality service and have on-brand messaging that nurtures trust.
To address this gap, marketers need to bullet-proof their customer experience delivery systems with integrated CRM, data and customer support platforms.
Termed "resilient lifehackers", these group of individuals are mainly aged between 25 to 34 years old (59%) and they seek to diversify their income and constantly upskill. The types of content which will interest them include state of the market, guidance on how to take ownership over their career paths and the future of work. The platforms to reach them include TV, search engines, news portals and online review sites.
7. Life at home - adapting homemakers:
With most individuals working from home nowadays, consumers have turned their homes into an office, makeshit gym and even a playhouse for children. Known as the adapting homemakers, brands can target this group of consumers byu giving them more control over their self care. For example, having dashboards on how they have spent time and automated content curation.
When interacting with these individuals, brands are advised to focus on engagement and not reach.
According to the study, the primary goals of these consumers are multitasking home, work and play with tech, as well as not compromising on home comforts to get essential tasks done. They are mainly urban Malaysians with a household monthly income of more than RM4,000 and 62% of them are married. They are interested in content such as food and drinks, news, jobs, finance and investing and sports.
8. Luxury - little luxe seekers:
The study noted that high-value shoppers crave rewards and self-indulgences that bolster the self-esteem and offer outlets for escapism and therapy. Luxury has been redefined as being more about experiential moments and less about brand identification.
Brands are advised to focus on the psychological self-esteem needs of consumers.
This can be done by messaging and curating UGC content that focuses on prestige and reinforcing feelings of accomplishment.
Brands should also create many avenues across platforms for consumers to immerse themselves in privileges and rewards. They can also segment audiences by the types of rewards they seek to personalise recommendations and content for continuous upsells and cross sells.
These little luxe seekers are interested in content surrounding health and fitness, outdoor and automotives, computer and electronics, and fashion trends. They are mainly over 25 years old with a monthly house hold income of more than RM4,000. According to the study, their primary goals are to live int he moment and have more self-rewards for the money.
9. Finance - the prudent prepper:
Citing statistics from RinggitPlus, the study said 51% of Malaysians are unable to survive beyond two months with their current savings.
To target this group, brands can consider price-matching and pay-what-you-want bundling strategies as consumers can easily make comparisons online and would pay more for personalised offerings.
Additionally, brands must also compete on trust when engaging these prudent preppers, as what the study termed them. This is because 80% of individuals would not buy products or services from a business with negative reviews. It is also important for brands to remember not to cross certain red lines - price gouging on essentials, misusing personal data, and maknig false product claims, for example.
According to the study, 70% of prudent preppers tend to research consumer reviews compared to only 47% of the average Malaysian shoppers. They are anxious to save and plan for the future and 62% of them are married with children.
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