China is approximately three months ahead of the rest of the world in its Covid-19 recovery journey. There is plenty that we can learn from resilient companies that communicate effectively with stakeholders, quickly roll out relevant products and services, most of all, respond to data.
Here are three opportunities and lessons from the marketing recovery playbook from China’s best-performing brands:
Rising Budget Consciousness Gives Agile Brands an Opportunity
As coronavirus impacts jobs and incomes, younger consumers are feeling the pinch (78% worldwide based on Kantar's survey) in their pockets. This means that they become less brand-conscious and seek greater bang for their buck. Despite the gloom and doom, it is a good time for mid-tier brands to enter this market through a communications campaign that highlights a clear positioning and quality/pricing mix.
For existing brands, what else can marketers do rather than give discounts that commoditizes their brand and has no guarantee of repeat business?
KFC has stepped up its promotion of its paid membership scheme during Covid-19. This scheme lasts for 90 days, costing 38 yuan. Price-conscious consumers will need to purchase its discounted menu items over this period to make this membership pay off. In addition, this scheme offers free takeaway as well to give its customers more options. KFC gets cash upfront, pays no e-platform fees as orders can only be made through its mobile app while customers become more loyal to its products. Similarly as travel becomes more local, hospitality marketers may wish to adapt such pricing tactics for F&B options within their property.
Pent-up Domestic Travel
Cross-border travel is a big bummer for now as automatic quarantines and coronavirus screenings are here to stay for the short-term. But what about domestic travel? On May 15, China's daily flights reached 10,262, which is roughly 60% of normal flight numbers as reported by People's Daily. This is the first time since February 1 (Chinese New Year traffic) that the daily flights have exceeded 10,000.
The average daily flights in March is 6,538; 6,950 in April, and 8,900 for May (up till May 15). With such a quick ramp-up in May, this suggests that international flights may be due to a similar rebound! This is a fascinating trend that travel and hospitality professionals should closely observe.
It also implies that 'winter' is likely to last a couple of months rather than 12 months (the worst-case scenario). Therefore, marketers should not give in to gloomy naysayers. During this critical period, it is important to communicate, connect and display your commitment (3Cs) to your Chinese customers.
Create Opportunities to Connect with Your Customers
We spoke about the 3Cs earlier, and Marriott executes this to perfection through announcing a members' day on the eighth of every month. Marriott connects with its customers while displaying their commitment through reward point redemption specials, complimentary upgrades and travel ideas. Julie Purser, VP Loyalty Marketing noted that, "Marriott has always been committed to providing wonderful travel experiences to our members. We hope to further increase the interaction with Chinese members through our members' day and let them enjoy a wonderful travel experience with their loved ones."
Regular communications is essential to reach a larger audience and strike an emotional chord with your audience. Think about ways to give your customers something to look forward to. This strategy could be ramped up in terms of frequency quickly when the recovery is in full swing!
People are changing the way they buy, shop, travel, consume. Marketing cannot afford inaction. Get in touch to discuss how your brand can only survive Covid-19, but become a leader.