by Vikash Gajjar (@VikashGajjar) For the most part, digital transformation was just a box that needed ticking — due, in part, to the comfort of legacy systems and operations that seemed to be working perfectly fine. Until now. With the onslaught of the novel coronavirus, ‘real’ digital transformation has had to come into practice fast.

And, while there’s more than enough room on digital for brands to play together, a brand’s agility and adaptability to the current climate and the ‘new’ future will determine its success and longevity in a post-covid-19 world.

Covid-19 isn’t going anywhere

Almost a month into lockdown and digital transformation across business and brand is top priority. The pandemic has forced into motion a transformation agenda like no other: one that requires digital evolution to happen now, and happen fast. As we learn more about the long-lasting effects that this virus will have on us as individuals and as business, one thing is certain: covid-19 isn’t going anywhere. Just as we’ve been forced to find ways to live with and work around other viruses and illnesses in the past, so the onus is on us to adapt — this time, however, more profoundly than before.

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Thirty or 60 days ago, our prediction of and outlook on the future was vastly different to what we envision it to be now. Indeed, human interaction with everything (people, commerce and brands) has changed. This transformation of interaction results in changed consumers: consumers who still wants the brands that they do but need to access them in different ways. So, while a brand’s role in consumers’ lives will most likely remain the same, how consumers interact with the brand becomes heavily skewed towards digital interaction.

It’s evident already: brands that fail to digitise at the required speed risk losing consumers to brands that’ve adopted a digital-first model for their products and services.

Customisation is king

Consumers demand a seamless, transparent and hyperpersonalised experience when interacting with brands, especially on digital. Simply supplying a demand (as per traditional economics) will no longer cut in.

In a webinar hosted by the Daily Maverick and facilitated by Ferial Haffajee last week, foresight strategist John Sanei explains that, in order to resonate with our consumers, brands need to adopt a ‘curate, match and facilitate’ methodology when delivering their products and services. He cites Spotify as a prime example: the media provider curates numerous playlists, matches them to individual listeners, and then facilities the delivery of a never-ending supply of music tailored to you.

While each brand is different, interception and acquisition will be driven by hyperpersonalisation of content across a broad range of digital communication media, each considered as a specific interceptor in a consumer’s online journey. To ‘spray and pray’ is practically moot.

Agility a key determiner in success

If there’s one thing that covid-19 has taught us as marketers and advertisers, it’s that there’s a need to be agile all the time. The number of content plans that’ve become irrelevant or have had to be reworked is countless. That it took a pandemic such as this to bring about true agility on social media — a medium that demands it — shows that we, as an industry, aren’t as digitised or digital-first as we think.

While the pandemic has forced us to rethink content on a macro level more regularly as new information comes to light and rules and regulations regarding lockdown change, this sort of agility should’ve already been applied on a micro level. On social media in particular, brands win when they interject themselves into consumer conversations that they’ve a right to participate in. Currently, on a macro level, covid-19 dominates conversation.

Yet research from Twitter shows that there’s been a 64% increase in conversation about being bored or struggling to fill our days. So, while the majority of brands shout about the coronavirus, the brands that win are the ones that entertain, that offset their consumers’ boredom with content that uplifts and gives them something to do. Consumer-need states change — not once a month or every six months but every day, every week — and the curation and deployment of content should cater to that if we’re to achieve a hyperpersonalised experience on digital.

Why wait?

The coronavirus has changed our lives forever. Our roles as marketers and advertisers may remain the same but the manner in which we work won’t. Normal as we’ve known it won’t return. With so many of us eagerly anticipating the end of the lockdown, we fail to remember that there’s no ‘new normal’ awaiting us. That ‘new normal’ has already begun. We’re already living it.

So, as brands, why wait until post-lockdown to properly get going and change things up? Make your Day 1 today.

See also


Vikash GajjarVikash Gajjar (@VikashGajjar) studied a year of accounting before realising he was meant to work in a more-creative field, so he swapped balance sheets for (what was then) 140-character tweets. He is currently a digital content producer at M&C Saatchi Abel, driving relevant and engaging content creation that’s topical and resonant on some of South Africa’s leading brands.

This MarkLives #CoronavirusSA special section contains coverage of how the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and its resultant disease, covid-19, is affecting the advertising, marketing and related industries in South Africa and other parts of Africa, and how we are responding. Updates may be sent to us via our contact form or the email address published on our Contact Us page. Opinion pieces/guest columns must be exclusive.

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