Note: As the coronavirus situation in the UK continues to evolve, this post was accurate at the time of writing.
At present, there’s no escape from the news of coronavirus. It consumes every news report, social feed and, for many of us, our thoughts.
What’s happening right now can feel genuinely overwhelming.
Already, we’re witnessing the knock-on effect it’s having on the economy – the Bank of England has cut interest rates to an all-time low, and all non-essential brick and mortar businesses have been forced to shut up shop for the immediate future.
In short, most sectors are struggling, travel and hospitality particularly so.
That said, with most of us now required to stay at home, people are increasingly turning to online search for answers and solutions. In fact, some industries are even thriving in this current climate.
In this blog post, we’ve made some short-term observations regarding sectors that are experiencing a growth in demand during this unprecedented time.
At the same time, we’ve also sought to offer some useful advice for businesses currently struggling to navigate this pandemic.
The Impact On Gyms & Home Workout Equipment
On Saturday 21st March, all gyms were ordered to close. Even prior to this, many people were, naturally, starting to avoid social spaces such as gyms.
This current climate appears to have prompted the start of a ‘workout from home’ movement. A simple search of ‘home workouts coronavirus’ produces thousands of news articles:
Similarly, Google Trends reveals there’s been a gradual surge in searches for ‘home workout’, globally, in the past month:
Indeed, many home workout and fitness companies appear to be benefiting from the pandemic. In the last week, the US home workout machine Tonal has seen its sales triple, whilst Peloton, an indoor exercise bike with live stream workouts, has seen stocks in the company increase despite shutting down its retail showrooms globally until the end of March.
Peloton is also using this time to attract new users by offering a 90-day trial of their workout app. Other fitness brands are attempting to navigate this crisis by offering similar trials, utilising live video or posting workout content to their social channels. For example, Sweaty Betty and PureGym are continuing to post simple gym and yoga workouts, which can easily be done from home, to their Instagram accounts.
Amongst all the doom and gloom, there is one particularly heartening story within the fitness sector. Joe Wicks, a well-known tv presenter and fitness coach, otherwise known as the ‘Body Coach’, recently announced his intention to become “The nation’s PE teacher”. With the closure of all schools as of Monday 23rd March, Joe Wicks will now hold live PE lessons for children every day throughout the week.
The Impact On Entertainment & Digital Streaming Services
Events, festivals, theatres, cinemas and even the filming of tv shows have been halted for the time being. The latest James Bond movie release date has been moved to November, while Glastonbury festival has been delayed until 2021.
On the flip side, with more of us staying at home, digital streaming services such as Netflix and YouTube are experiencing unprecedented usage. In fact, usage has increased so much, both Netflix and YouTube are reportedly reducing the streaming quality of their videos to avoid straining the internet.
Interestingly, amongst the top viewed Netflix content in the past month includes the 1995 film Outbreak, which is about the spread of a virus, and a docuseries called Pandemic.
The Impact on Supermarkets & Online Grocery Shopping
We’ve all seen the chilling images of bare shelves on the news.
People are flocking to the supermarkets to stock up on toilet roll, pasta and cleaning supplies. Despite most supermarkets now imposing restrictions on certain items, recent events have, unsurprising, led to supermarkets such as Morrisons announcing an increase in sales.
Similarly, Ocado sales have soared as other shoppers stay at home and avoid the shops during the pandemic. In fact, the Ocado website and app has reportedly crashed several times recently as it struggles to cope with a barrage of online orders. This increase in demand for home delivery shopping has seen many supermarkets appeal for more delivery drivers.
The Impact on Restaurants & Home Deliveries
In terms of chain restaurants, McDonald’s announced the closure of its restaurant area last week, and its drive-through has since shut too. Following government instruction, Pizza Hut, Nando’s and Costa Coffee have similarly followed suit.
With this major turn of events, people are increasingly likely to turn to takeaway. Boris Johnson, in his address to the nation on March 24th, even encouraged people to “use food delivery services where you can”.
Google Trends reveals there’s been a gradual increase in searches for the following food delivery brands in the UK in the past week: Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats. Similarly, other than New Year’s day, ‘takeaway near me’ recently peaked for the UK:
Despite this apparent upward trend for home deliveries, many are questioning the ethics of ordering food online and exposing delivery drivers to the virus – especially if they’re delivering to the home of people who are identified as being infected. That said, most of these companies are adjusting by offering contact-free delivery. Customers are alerted by an app when their food has arrived safely on their doorstep and no communication or exchange of food need take place.
The Impact On Breweries & Alcoholic Beverages
The panic buying hasn’t stopped at pasta.
With the closure of pubs, next on people’s essential items list appears to be alcohol. Indeed, Google Trends reveals that search terms such as ‘alcohol delivery’ and ‘wine delivery’ have experienced a stark increase in volume in the past week or so:
Interestingly, a visit to the Majestic Wine website, one the UK’s leading wine retailers, immediately confronts users with the following message:
The Wine Society has similarly claimed that demand for their products is unprecedented and there may be delays with their deliveries.
Some alcohol manufacturers and breweries have even branched out with their offerings during this crisis. UK based craft brewer BrewDog is making hand sanitizer ‘BrewGel’ which it says it will give away to charities and the NHS for free. Similarly, Tito’s Vodka, an American vodka company, announced it plans to produce and distribute 24 tons of hand sanitizer across the country.
Information about the impact of coronavirus on certain industries is emerging all the time at the moment. Other goods that have revealed a recent surge in sales includes outdoor and indoor games, home and garden items, reading materials, electrical goods and coffee.
Digital Marketing Tips & Advice For Struggling Businesses
Don’t Neglect Your Digital Marketing
We can understand how it might not feel like the right time to prioritise your digital marketing. For many companies, there are immediate practical concerns associated with this current situation they must address.
However, don’t be tempted to neglect your digital marketing and let your efforts up to this point go to waste. Continue to invest time and effort into your organic visibility, so that when things do return to normal, you won’t have lost your market share.
In the same vein, at present, every visit to your website counts. You should be doing everything you possibly can to convert visitors. Is it easy for visitors to buy or interact with you? If it isn’t, now is the time to rectify this.
For B2B businesses, facing months without the opportunity to generate leads through live events, conferences and exhibitions, consider developing your own lead gen activities. This includes content marketing, email marketing and live online webinars – which can now be designed to include excellent online networking, brand awareness and lead gen opportunities.
If you need any help with this, speak to us about developing a plan.
Offer Content Of Value
Now more than ever, it’s vital that the content you are providing online is of value to your customers.
The last thing you want to happen is to be seen to be profiting from or capitalising on this crisis, nor do you want to be accused of being tone-deaf. If you’re yet to do so, we recommend you review all your scheduled marketing messages immediately.
That can mean anything from your social media, emails, paid ads and even your tv ad campaigns.
Ask yourself, is your messaging appropriate in this current climate? Have you even addressed what’s happening? If you genuinely have a message that is kind, helpful or reassuring – please go ahead and share it.
Alternatively, avoid adding to any hysteria, panic or misinformation currently doing the rounds.
Utilise Live-Streaming & Video Content
You may have noticed many brands are ramping up their use of video content and live streaming recently. If it applies to your business model, consider using this medium to continue to connect your customers and create a sense of community.
For instance, gyms and personal trainers are live-streaming classes and workouts, and singers are live-streaming their performances. At the very least, if you have an online shop, make your customers aware that this will be the main means of purchasing your goods going forward.
Encourage Reviews & Use Trust Signals
Trust signals and reviews are so important right now.
People will be looking to your social channels and comments to see how you’re dealing with the crisis and if they’re not now, they will do in the coming months when things have, hopefully, calmed down.
Communication and reassurance are key.
Consider doing a live Q&A on Facebook or Twitter and answer commonly asked questions publicly. Don’t make people have to hunt for crucial information. Instead, pre-empt what and where they’re likely to ask for this information and make it readily available.
Don’t Stay Silent
In times as uncertain and monumental as this, saying nothing can be just as damaging to your brand as saying the wrong thing. This might sound counter intuitive to the second tip we provided. Of course, if you genuinely have nothing of value to contribute to the conversation then don’t.
At the very least, however, ensure every communications channel you own addresses the following:
- How it’s impacting your company – I.e. Have working hours changed? Are all your staff working remotely? Will deliveries and returns be impacted? Are delivery procedures mindful of social distancing? What cleanliness measure are you taking when packaging goods?
- What you’re doing to help – I.e. Are you in a position to offer discounts to NHS workers? Can you provide special deliveries to the elderly/vulnerable? Do you have a skill that is of value to your local community right now that you can offer for free?
Ensure this information is pinned to the top of your Twitter profile or Facebook cover photo as, ultimately, this is at the forefront of people’s minds now.
Google My Business is an additional channel you will need to update. You can find advice from Google regarding how to update your Google My Business profile during the crisis here. If you’re yet to approach the topic and are unsure how to go about it, Twitter has also released some helpful communication guidance for brands here.
Bank Your Creative Ideas For A Later Date
As much as things feel uncertain right now, and we don’t know how long this is going to last, it will have an end.
Look forward to the next major season or event relevant to your industry and consider how you can prepare for it. Perhaps also use this time to focus on things you’ve previously let slip by the wayside or deprioritised. That could mean anything from auditing your website (something we can help with), switching up your website copy or catching up on admin – all in preparation for when things start returning to normal.
H3: Be Mindful Of Peoples Mental State
We must adjust to the collective emotional state of mind of people across the world right now.
Most of us are in a state of worry. Headspace has acknowledged this and is providing free meditations via its app to support people globally.
Now is not the time to be targeting consumers with the intent of convincing them to buy. Once this period if over, people will reflect on and celebrate the companies that have responded well to this crisis.
Be sensitive, tread lightly and aim to be helpful and foster a sense of community.
Those who purposefully try to profit against the backdrop of this outbreak will not be looked on favourably.
Finally, we know it’s easier said than done, but try to remain positive.
Each and every one of us is in the same boat. We’re all worried about this pandemic and what it means for our health, our jobs, our home, the economy and our way of life going forward. If anything can be learnt from this awful situation it’s that, in times of need, humanity is overwhelmingly kind and pulls together to help each other out.
If you’d like some advice on how to navigate this difficult period, please feel free to reach out to us. You can email us here or reach out via Twitter (@SiteVisibility) and we’ll do our best to help.