The Great Time Suck

May 2, 2020

Welcome to May, a typically busy and beautiful time of year. No doubt, the beauty is there. The coronavirus doesn’t prevent the sun from shining or the tulips from rising. And perhaps that’s what makes this whole mess so debilitating at times: on the outside, seems things normal, but we all know what’s out there.

So what do we do with all this time? I’ve never been more and less aware of time concurrently in my life. In fact, this past Monday I thought to myself, “I’m going to try and be aware of how quickly Friday comes,” and lo, there it was. Almost immediately.

This week produced some interesting research about what we’re doing with our time.

Research giant McKinsey created the following study that looks at a variety of sentiment analysis as well as predictions about future “new” behaviors as a result of the pandemic. 

McKinsey Survey: US consumer sentiment during the coronavirus crisis from McKinsey on Marketing & Sales

A few takeaways. First, GenX has no interest in video gaming, so thumbs up to my fellow GenXers for never giving up on Atari Pong! Second, I was happily enthusiastic to see the overall sense of optimism vs. pessimism. While I recognize that these posts I’ve written for the past two months have largely stayed within the tracks of optimism, I do believe that we simply don’t know enough right now to know for sure how we should feel. Q2 numbers haven’t come in, so much of the financial data is based on pre- or early-pandemic financials. We also do not have enough testing yet, and a second wave this fall is likely. How will we react to the actual data vs. our general senses of hope? I’m naturally an optimist. I find that I can use feelings of optimism more than pessimism, but that may just be a giant coping mechanism. Where will the data take us?

Another finding in the research is that consumers are less brand loyal right now. They are open to changing allegiances. Frankly, they’re open to easier ways of doing business (ecommerce, shipping ease, product availability, etc.) even more so than price, although price considerations remain high. What does this mean for brands? It means to either market more aggressively against “switchers” who fit the data profile of your best customers, or for your existing customers, don’t go dark. (Nielsen just released this report on the effects of “going dark” on media spending. Take some Nielsen bias in to account, but still interesting.) They may not be loyal. Communications is key. Email marketing has seen an exponential thrust during this period. It is the easiest, least expensive, and most engaging medium we have to help keep customers from switching brands. Of course, we’ve known this for 20 years, but sometimes it takes a meltdown to remind us of the essentials.

EMARKETER’S “TIME SPENT” WITH MEDIA RESEARCH (DOWNLOAD)

Guess what? We’re watching a lot of video! Not surprising. But the learnings, finally in more facts and data, is the video-on-demand and streaming categories are growing very fast. Linear television, not so much. What this has done is create a glut of video advertising inventory at really good prices, but brands are having a difficult time producing video content to deliver due to production essentially being shut down. However, if you have video content available, can recut or edit, once again it’s a buyer’s market for advertising inventory that has typically run much more expensively. If you can do it, do it.

FINALLY, SOME HOMEGROWN RESEARCH FROM CICERON

Julie Verhulst, my trustworthy VP of Strategy, has been heads down digging into a variety of market trends in several verticals. This week she posted her first report on the impact of the pandemic on the financial services industry. Please read and share with those you know in that vertical if you see fit. Next week, she will be publishing a similar report on the entertainment industry.

Once again, enjoy this lovely weekend! Stay safe and sound, and see you on Monday and then quickly again next Saturday.