There are many businesses that will close-down their innovation and marketing spend during a crisis like we are seeing now with the Covid-19 pandemic. It is hard to blame them when revenues are down or at risk, the future is uncertain, and the cash burn rate is a huge concern. But is coming to a full stop on innovation the right decision? Will ceasing to investment ensure you are solvent on the other side of the crisis?
I would argue that this is not a time to stop investing in your brands and in innovation. It is a time to carefully evaluate investments and ensure they are focused on new realities. That they are informed with current insights on how consumers and customers are most likely to behave as we come out of lockdown and manage through the ensuing recession.There are critical questions that really need to be answered to ensure decisions are evidence-based. As a global leader in Market Research, Insights and Growth Enablement, the AND group has been asked by numerous clients about the types of research they should be doing now:
How are people reacting to the crisis and what are the implications on a broad scale?
How are people changing behaviors that will impact my category? How have their needs changed?
Are there new or changed expectations for my brand long-term?
Is my marketing content still relevant?
How will the crisis impact the long-term prospects for my brand?
What I am talking about here applies to all types of products and services, however if your brand was impacted by supply chain issues that forced customers to try other brands, they are even more relevant. It is important to know, did my customers like the replacement brands? Do they see a discernable difference between brands? Will they come back or stay with the new brand?
If you have an existing listening or tracking study in place, you are ahead of the curve. If not, you should consider one as it allows you to see how behaviors and attitudes are changing overtime and gives you acute insight into trends and can inspire possible innovations.
There is a good reason to take a hard look at your spending right now as a crisis or recession. The trick is to ensure the dollars are invested in ways to gain the greatest return. Businesses will get some leeway due to the crisis, but customers will not wait or forgive forever, and they will form long-term opinions during this time. The objective is to ensure you have the right insights to help you take the actions that protect and grow your brands and company.