Study: Marketers expect to return to pre-COVID spend within a quarter

More than half of marketers (59%) said they will return to pre-COVID levels of investment in marketing within a quarter or sooner, according to a report by Adobe which surveyed 1,200 across Singapore, China, India, Australia, the US and Japan. 

In particular, those in China (65%) and India (75%) said they will be significantly quicker in returning to normal marketing investment than those in Australia (49%), Singapore (43%), the US (43%) and Japan (38%).

adobe covid 2020 report

About 47% also indicated that marketing spending for the remainder of 2020 in all APAC countries will decrease due to COVID-19, with the smallest net decrease coming from China. Compared with the US and Japan, net decreases in spending for the remainder of this year are smaller in APAC countries.

adobe covid 2020 report 2

Meanwhile, nearly 62% expect to proactively advertise or push out messaging within a week of stay-at-home orders ending, while 28% will wait a few weeks to a month. According to the report, India (73%) and China (65%) will be significantly quicker in returning to normal messaging than those in Singapore (57%), Australia (51%), the US (47%) and Japan (45%).

When it comes to planning ahead, majority of organisations (79%) are also transforming their long-term strategy in case this period lasts over a year, and changing their approach to future marketing efforts (82%), with larger organisations being more likely to make changes. In this case, Adobe found that APAC organisations are more likely to make long-term changes compared to those in the US. These changes will entail moving marketing to different channels (75%), changing prioritised audiences (58%), and reallocating resources across different regions (47%).

adobe covid 2020 report 3

Shift in imagery or language

Without a doubt, brands had to adapt their messaging amidst the COVID-19 period, in addition to innovating their business models. More than half of marketers (56%) have had to shift imagery or language in a recent marketing campaign due to the pandemic, with larger organisations being much more likely to shift. Shifted elements included visuals of people touching (71%), language that describes close interaction (67%), visuals of crowds (50%) and visuals of travel (41%).

Those in Australia (39%) were less likely to have shifted messaging, while those in China (67%) and India (65%) were more likely. On the other hand, significantly less US organisations (39%) have shifted messaging.

Over the past two to three weeks most companies have sent brand messaging related to COVID-19 (76%) as well as sales promotions (76%), and messages that are unrelated to the pandemic (63%). The type of messages being shared with customers currently are the company's responses to COVID-19 for customers (84%), company policies for employees and stores in response to the pandemic (69%), community support (61%), general brand affinity messaging (60%) and helpful tips on adjusting to difficult times (59%).

Overall, 94% of marketers felt that their organisational marketing and communications have been authentic, while 92% said it resonated with consumers. Adobe's report also found that there is a general sense that brands have a duty to proactively offer help or provide special offers to customers at this time. This sense of duty is strongest in China (94%) and India (94%) and weakest in Australia (82%).

Consumers' relationship with brands during COVID-19

Over half of the 4,001 consumers (55%) surveyed by Adobe found utility in brand-related COVID-19 updates, with 69% requesting said updates in the near future. Chinese (67%) and Indian (73%) consumers, in particular, were more likely to find updates useful. Meanwhile, correspondence between visuals or text found in marketing materials and the state of the world, in response to COVID-19, are rated as important by 73% of consumers, with Chinese (80%) and Indian (83%) consumers more likely to feel this way, the study said.

Nearly half of consumers (46%) agreed that brands are doing enough to target price gouging, stock shortages and delivery availability. In particular, Singaporean consumers had a neutral opinion on this matter while Chinese (72%) and Indian (54%) consumers agreed that brands did enough. On the other hand, Australian consumers disagreed. 

Meanwhile, two-thirds of consumers agree brands are communicating just right, where emails (65%), social networks (56%), TV ads (45%) and text or calls (40%) are the most common communication mediums. Meanwhile, 16% agree brands are not communicating enough and the younger generations are more likely to unsubscribe from receiving emails, out of the 28% that have done so, according to Adobe.

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