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REALITY - INsight #198

Contrary to what some marketers believe, marketing, as we knew it, has changed. You may not realize this, if your barometer is the stock market.

INsight #1: Marketers have been operating on false hopes and false narratives since the pandemic shut down much of the American and worldwide economies. Much of consumer spending has been propped up by the federal stimulus checks that ended last week. And while Americans have been on a spending spree, according to CNN Business, the sugar rush may be wearing off.

CNN Business also reports that the savings rate in June fell to 19% from a peak of 33.5% in April. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index (CSI) has dropped. Let’s not be surprised by this reality. We still have a double-digit unemployment rate. U of M economist Richard Curtin noted in the CSI report that federal relief programs have prevented more substantial declines in the finances of consumers, partly shielding them from the unprecedented surge in job losses, reduced work hours and salary cuts.

INsight #2: Today’s reality is two-fold:

  • As the flow of federal money shrinks millions of pocketbooks, it will cause a new economic downturn spiral. Even those brands that have been riding a sales quest are in jeopardy of losing sales.

  • Existing marketing strategies are not prepared to address this new reality.

It’s appropriate to repeat a statement from last week’s INsight. “My guess is that the majority of Americans are living in fear. Fear leads to anxiety, and anxiety leads to the behavior changes that we discussed last week. Brand marketing responses are still written in the past lane, not the fast lane. This is because marketing teams are not trying to understand the signals and inputs consumers are sending.”

Key Takeaway: It’s no longer a guessing game. It’s reality. Brands are about to face a new reality not seen since the Great Depression. Those that guess will lose market share and maybe disappear from the market. Even those brands with deep pockets will not survive without a new strategy.

INsight #3: Consumers’ wants and needs are radically shifting. These are paradigm shifting marketplace eruptions. Brands that focus their messaging on addressing needs will have a better chance of staying relevant, compared to those that linger, focusing on wants. Bottom line, recognize the reality that consumers’ expectations, fueled by current events, are changing. The majority of consumers are beginning to focus on the necessities of life at the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid.

INsight #4: Marketing needs to develop new strategies that should focus on survival. Maybe that’s a little harsh, but it’s true. These cannot be short-term fixes. Brands have to create long-term strategies because this pandemic and its after-shocks will last a decade or more. The following ideas and a new marketing platform are offered as we struggle to adapt to the new realities facing every brand:

  • Complete a new SWOT analysis. Your new reality is that your buyers and competitors have changed. That means a new business model must evolve.

  • Ask the tough questions. Begin by acknowledging your products may be wanted but not needed.

  • Change your message. Words matter. Make sure your words matter to your buyers. How can you position your brand to resonate as buyers fear tomorrow? Our messaging strategy: Give people a reason why your brand should matter in their lives. This strategy gets your message away from features and benefits, and focuses on them. Identify what matters in their lives. And, as I noted last week, if you don’t know what matters in their lives, read the paper.

  • Change your delivery. Buyers are tired of boring emails and infographics. Every brand needs to create a new humanized persona. That’s why we are introducing a new video marketing platform that will completely change the dynamics of your brand marketing. Learn more at

The EndGame: New thinking. New vision. New energy.©

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