Electronics marketing faces its largest modern challenge in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Supply chain delays from manufacturing to shipping are juxtaposed with a sudden shift in consumer needs and rising demand for home use products. The effects of the pandemic have negatively rippled through the processes of transportation, sales, prototyping, product development, launches, and have even increased average sale prices. For some consumer electronics, especially those effected by the chip shortage, demand has far outpaced supply.
Even Apple, a multi-trillion-dollar company and consumer electronics leader, was struck hard by current events. The 2020 iPhone launch was delayed, as Apple stated the device could not be meet projected sales due to the pandemic’s effect on supply chains. Vehicle manufacturers Hyundai and Nissan announced in 2021 their suspension of production in South Korea due to the chip shortage.
Similar delays and complications continue into 2022. The Guardian reported in late 2021 that supply chain issues could continue for another two years. (The Guardian) While 2022 has shown signs of supply chain issues letting up, little is certain.
Every industry has felt the impact of the pandemic—and most often, in unavoidable ways. But marketers have always been able to adapt to the times and shift their thinking to better serve their customers. So, in the midst of a global pandemic ravaging the consumer electronics landscape, what strategies can marketers adapt to tackle these challenges?
Electronics marketing has changed
Your website is key
Know electronics consumer needs & concerns
Highlight immediate electronics consumer interests
Bundle popular products & up your product discovery game
Be honest about shipping delays
Show you care about customer safety
Promote (or add) no-contact delivery and/or pickup options
“After sales service” is more essential than ever
Back in stock notifications – Set and forget
Make promotions central and visible
The pandemic has placed marketers into a precarious position, where in addition to all the regular complexities of marketing, marketers must also balance volatile shifts in consumer supply and demand. Global lockdowns heavily impacted imports of “non-essential” products. Simultaneously, the demand for home use products has skyrocketed. With self-quarantining, a rise in work from home, and mandated lockdowns, consumers are more concerned with entertainment, improving life at home, and productivity than ever before. This notes a shift in the kinds of products marketers should focus on, but how marketers get these products to consumers has also shifted.
Many brands have been forced to close their physical stores for their community’s health and well-being. Additionally, those who’ve managed to keep their brick-and-mortar locations open have seen fewer customers and plummeting conversion rates.
The pandemic has not only changed what consumers are shopping for, but how they shop for it. Online presence and sales are more vital than ever as we continue to wade through the unpredictable twists and turns of the COVID pandemic. Additionally, the long-term effects of the pandemic are unknown. Will physical store foot traffic recover and when?
Regardless of the uncertain future, marketers must find ways to connect with their customer’s altered needs and milieus.
This is the base concept for all the tips to follow.
Your website is your most powerful tool in this uncertain time. Unlike social media, your site is separated from the politics and ever-shifting public opinions of online social spaces. Your site is completely under your control, but this means putting in effort to connect consumers to your site.
Contextual and personalized content is key to capturing your customer’s attention and retaining it. This generates repeat visits and regular transactions. Contextual and personalized content on your site uses collected data to create specific experiences individual to each customer. Someone who’s been looking around online for a particular consumer electronic needs to see that exact kind of electronic—at your best offering—as soon as they arrive at your site.
Your web presence should do more than be efficient and be on-brand. It should generate a “wow moment” where the consumer is happy to see, from the very first interaction, you can offer exactly what they need.
Consumer concerns adjust with the times. For example, in 2020 Statista reported consumers had a major, and fast-growing interest in things like dumbbells, vitamin C gummies, powdered milk, bidets, bread makers, and external monitors—ranging from 160% growth to 725% growth. This sudden extreme interest in usually unpopular items happened practically overnight—a thirty-day span in the month of March. Trends like this can often be difficult to jump on because of how fast they occur. Nevertheless, marketers should always have an ear to the ground, so they know what products are best to push at a given moment.
Today, as the vaccination rates increase and small semblances of normalcy return, consumers are moving their interests to more elusive and conceptual qualities. Mintel, one of the world’s leading market intelligence and predictive analytics agencies, has highlighted several areas it believes consumers will focus on in 2022.
These less measurable and more experiential areas include: climate, and how brands help mitigate their environmental impact; ethics topics, where consumers want to see brands make progress on issues important to consumers; flexible spaces, in light of the changed work and home environments; portable entertainment experiences, both virtual and real; and a focus on control being in the consumer’s hands. (Mintel)
After identifying which products and product categories are relevant to your customers, there are several ways to highlight those categories and gently lead users to those products.
Insider’s Slider Banners allow flexibility and take just minutes to implement. You can bring products to the center of your website and connect them to your customers with contextual content relevant to their interests. Best Buy and Newegg, are great examples of the leading electronics retailers who implement this targeted approach.
As datasets and current events reveal the needs of customers, think about how certain products could be bundled together. This peaks customer interest and increases sales. As the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, entertainment and work-from-home bundles are excellent ideas.
With Insider’s InStory, you can increase engagement across your entire website. Inspired by visual powerhouses like Instagram and Snapchat, Insider’s InStory is a full-screen, vertical messaging format. InStory creates a visual and engaging format for customers to interact with while product discovery is facilitated. This familiar medium is a great way for customers to feel comfortable and welcome while discovering new products. With InStory, you can create infinite personalized stories for your website at scale—and this is an excellent area to place featured bundles.
Few things are more frustrating to a customer than getting an experience they didn’t sign up for. Late packages or packages that are hard to track are one of those experiences. Unfortunately, during the pandemic, shipping delays are often an unavoidable reality for many brands. However, and fortunately, avoiding customer frustration is easier to manage.
Banners are a great way to convey apologies in advance for unavoidable situations. Banners, while sometimes conveying unfortunate news, are great tools to generate trust between your brand and its customers.
Be honest with your customers and upfront about potential delays. A display of honesty can easily foster trust and loyalty with a customer—even if that display of trust might be admitting a current issue. Customers understand the pandemic is affecting everyone, businesses included.
Additionally, being honest about how you’re prioritizing shipments can win the respect of customers. Who could argue with prioritizing health and safety products during these strange times? While some situations could be seen as a no-win for both brand and customer, think about how honesty can cast a new light on the situation.
In the spirit of the previous strategy, displaying your continued commitment to your brand’s pandemic response is vital. At the beginning of the pandemic, many companies put on display a short but heartfelt message about how they were responding to the outbreak. If your brand hasn’t done this yet, it’s not too late—and if you already have, it’s not too late to tell customers about your continued commitment.
This pandemic has been long and rough for everyone. Customers appreciate the honesty and humanity in acknowledging bad times. Furthermore, shoppers are more likely to be loyal to brands that demonstrate care beyond themselves and immediate transactions.
No-contact delivery or pickup options have become very popular over the course of the pandemic. You can still add these options if you haven’t already, and if you have, it’s important to continue to promote them. When we’ll be “out of” the pandemic is unpredictable. But one thing is certain: customers will be, going forward, more health and convenience conscious.
It may be hard to imagine now, even as the pandemic has become more manageable, but eventually we’ll be living in a post-COVID world. In that world, because of our pandemic experiences, customers will be more likely to flock to brands that offer multiple routes of convenience. Not having to leave your car, or simply going into a store to pick up an online order, is undoubtedly staying post-COVID.
With customers stuck in their homes and many companies not planning to reopen their physical offices even after the pandemic ends, after sales services have become more important than ever. When it no longer feels safe to run into a store for troubleshooting help or to invoke a warranty (due to health concerns), making post-sale services available and easily accessible online is a must.
In the pandemic era, customers may find it easier to return an item rather than fuss with a difficult to use resolution process. So, to prevent returns and promote customer satisfaction and loyalty, make sure customers understand your after sales services are easy and convenient.
Insider’s AI-backed automation tool Architect can create omnichannel journeys which connect customers to relevant after sale services. Completely automated and individualized per customer, this technology is easy to set up and let run. Architect automates and initiates conversations, so you have nothing to worry about on your end.
Product stock management has become a higher stakes game during the COVID pandemic. With higher demand and stock issues abundant, customers are looking everywhere for the products they need. Multiple visits to the same brand resulting in multiple disappointments—and worse, no answer as to when an item will be back in stock, can permanently damage customer relations and public perception.
In general, it’s a good idea to promote products that are in-stock, rather than emphasize ones that are unavailable. However, you will likely still come across high-demand products that are out-of-stock. Communication is vital to avoiding consumer distress. With personalized notifications, you can update customers on preferred products. In this period of heightened online activity, first-time users have the potential to become loyal customers. Avoiding negative first impressions regarding stock is key.
Insider’s Smart Recommender allows for similar products to be recommended to customers if the product they wanted is out-of-stock. Powered by both AI and personalization, Smart Recommender converts new users and retains current customers by preventing a bad experience caused by stock issues.
Smart Recommender can have massive long-term impacts on customer retention. Brands who were able to successfully recommend alternative products during supply chain and stocking issues will leave a lasting, positive impression on shoppers.
One of the best ways to drive conversion is to make offers customers can’t refuse. What ways can your brand sweeten a deal other than lowering list prices? Free shipping, extended warranties, free returns, and support products are all great places to start. Make sure these great offerings are prominent on your website.
With increased time at home, there are more online shoppers than ever before. At the very least, you want your offerings to intrigue your potential customers and have them clicking deeper into the site—that is, if they’re not already jumping on the front-page deals.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all industries. However, consumer electronics have become more vital than ever—from productivity to entertainment. These ten proven strategies, by utilizing personalized and relevant information, will help your brand connect positively with your customers and grow relationships that will last through these tough times and beyond. For even more strategies, get in touch with an Insider digital growth consultant.
More electronics marketing resources:
Electronics Retailers Guide 2022
Electronics marketing case studies:
Christopher has a long history of driving value and creating personalized, omnichannel journeys that enhance customer experience. He's passionate about learning and development and has a keen interest in developing economies, especially ones with a lot of room for digital growth.