How is COVID-19 changing digital marketing practices?

UNSW Business School's Veronica Zixi Jiang speaks with Cameron Bryant, co-founder and partner of Australia’s largest digital performance agency Sparro, about shifts in consumer trends post-COVID-19 and why businesses may need to rethink their marketing strategies going forward

Veronica Zixi Jiang: How do you say that COVID-19 has changed in marketing practice?

Cameron Bryant: I’m Cam and I run a digital marketing agency called Sparro. And we've seen that COVID 19 has impacted marketing practices, because overnight the demands of what people wanted changed.

We have a lot of travel clients, and overnight, travel had gone to zero. We had a lot of fashion clients, and, again, people were not going out because they were staying home. So, there was less demand for nightwear and dresses. Everyone wanted to work from home in track pants and Ugg boots, especially over winter. And there was demand in going from evening dresses into casual wear.

We saw demand especially in home furnishing as well … no money was spent on travel, so people wanted to spend it on themselves, renovations and on their homes. So we saw a lot of demand increase for online furniture around setting up your home office, but also making the rest of the house beautiful as well – so sales for rugs and lounges, etc.

Read more: How COVID-19 has changed consumer trends forever

We also saw a lot of increase in terms of makeup, as well, I think and hair products and self-beauty. Because again, people weren't able to go to the hairdresser, they weren’t able to go out and about and they were getting their own routine done at home.

We have some interesting clients such as Bing Lee and Temple & Webster as well. We definitely saw an increase in appliance sales from that. A lot of people straight away bought coffee machines, because they wanted to still have coffee, but they weren't going to work and using the coffee machine from there.

We also saw people buy bread makers because everyone wanted to become self-sufficient. And we saw a big demand in people buying fridges because they were buying food in bulk so they needed to put it somewhere to be able to cook with that as well.

We saw the same sort of trends in other products in the appliance range. People were buying slow cookers, people were buying extra fridges and washing machines. Because they were spending more time at home, they started to realise the little things that might annoy them about their current appliances. They needed to upgrade or they wanted to cook more in bulk or they wanted to make their own coffee or they wanted to change up their routine a little bit.

"We're seeing a huge increase in buy now pay later products with Afterpay and ZipPay, and there's a few more entering the market now. We're seeing this across the whole world"

Cameron Bryant, Co-founder and Partner, Sparro

So, as businesses shifted to meet the demand of what was the new demand with people working from home, they needed office chairs and they needed desks. And as kids were off school, they needed to buy outdoor play equipment so their kids were distracted while they were trying to work. So really saw a shift from COVID-19.

We also saw the shift in where people bought these products, and we saw a lot of people move online. There was a crazy stat – around 20 per cent of people bought online who have never bought online before. It was super interesting. And businesses needed to adapt and to change to meet that new demand.

We're seeing a huge increase in buy now pay later products with Afterpay and ZipPay, and there's a few more entering the market now. We're seeing this across the whole world. People want convenience and an easy way to offer someone convenience when they're purchasing from your e-commerce store as well.

This also allows people to better manage cash flow, etc. But I think that the buy now pay later trend is huge and it's moving offline as well – so people are able to do it in shops and that will continue to get bigger and bigger as well.

For more information read How COVID-19 has changed consumer trends forever or please contact Veronica Zixi Jiang, lecturer in the School of Marketing at UNSW Business School.


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