The long-term effect that coronavirus (COVID-19) will have on businesses is as yet unknown.
However, with many organisations taking action to help prevent the virus from spreading further – such as implementing remote working, shutting down production, and cancelling events – the consequences are already starting to be felt.
A survey of more than 2,200 marketers conducted by Econsultancy and Marketing Week has revealed that the majority believe that the outbreak has already heavily impacted marketing activities for the first half of 2020. Among marketers working at brands with a revenue of more than £50 million per year, 55% of those in the UK and 57% of those in North America say that product or service launches are delayed or under review, while 55% of UK and 56% of North American marketers say that marketing campaigns are delayed or under review.
While the outbreak has halted current or impending campaigns and product launches, the situation is also likely to affect the pipeline of what’s to come. Indeed, the majority of marketers (62% in the UK and 63% in the US) say that marketing budget commitments are delayed or under review.
Changes to client and consumer behaviours
While organisations have some level of control over how they manage the situation internally, there is less certainty over how business customers will behave.
Indeed, the majority of marketers in the survey reported significant changes in client spending as well as day-to-day communication. Seventy-eight percent of UK and 69% of North American marketers project that their business customers will have delays in spending decisions, while 55% of UK and 64% of North American marketers expect delays in product or service launches from business clients. Unsurprisingly, as many organisations transition to remote working, 91% of UK and 82% of North American marketers also say their business customers are reluctant to schedule in-person meetings.
While the general consensus is that coronavirus will have a damaging impact on businesses, some are seeing the positives and potential opportunities that could arise. Despite the fact that the majority of marketers (77% in the UK and 64% in North America) predict consumer delays in major spending decisions, most also predict a rise in other areas. Ninety-one percent of UK and 87% of North American marketers predict an increase in the use of online services, for example.
Social networks could also benefit, as 77% of UK and 70% of North American marketers predict an increase in social media activity. Finally, with consumers now socially distancing or self-isolating at home, 70% of UK marketers and 75% of North American marketers predict that there will be an increase in ecommerce usage – something we are already seeing with online grocery shopping.