How to re-engage your customers during COVID-19 is on our minds as marketers here at Franchise Ramp. Many small businesses are faced with the new reality: your customers have changed. How can you engage them again? What we’ve seen across the board is shifted customer behavior toward fulfilling more utilitarian-based demands for fundamental needs.
COVID-19 is a different beast than recent economic crises and recessions such as the Great Recession of 2008 and the Mideast oil crisis, whose causes were financially driven.
As complicated as the times are, our job as marketers remains a crucial requirement for recovery: to reassure your consumers about the future and give them some sense of confidence that the future is something that they should invest in.
The way franchise owners and operators can adapt to shifting customer wants is by engaging a more customer-centric philosophy. How does this translate? Rather than expecting your customers to come to you, you need to go to your customers.
The velocity or rate of adoption that your business needs to adjust to a new directional reality will depend on customer demand. While some normal activity is starting to bounce back, due to the many changes impacting local economies — state rules, consumer behavior, and social unrest — many of the consumer interest shifts we saw in March and April started to rebound in May, with dramatic shifts in June.
According to Yelp: Local Economic Impact Report updated June 25, 2020, Outdoor activities that became popular at the height of the pandemic as people were finding ways to stay active while social distancing – such as mountain biking (down 40%), lakes (down 34%), golf (down 33%) and hiking (down 28%) – have dropped in consumer interest since May 1 relative to other active activities. People are starting to feel more comfortable participating in indoor activities, with increased consumer interest for escape games (up 182%), Go Karts (up 147%), axe throwing (up 113%), gyms (up 81%), bowling (up 63%) and yoga (42%). That said, in some instances people are still finding ways to stay outdoors while social distancing with an increased interest in mini golf (up 132%), amusement parks (up 28%) and horseback riding (up 21%).
There have also been significant shifts in consumer interest for health and wellness businesses with an increased interest in saunas (up 75%), reflexology (up 69%) and dentists (up 28%), while skilled nursing (down 46%) and hospitals (down 37%) decline.