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Channel Mastery + SIA Bi-Weekly Consumer Behavior Pulse – November 11, 2020

November 11, 2020 | 0 Comments

Ski season in the U.S. is officially underway! The U.S. election has been called and Pfizer has announced promising results for a COVID-19 results. The madness that has been 2020 is now in the rearview mirror, right? 

Everyone nervously heading into the ski season knows the answer is, “Not so fast.” The uncertainty continues with COVID case numbers rising and the potential of future shutdowns or travel restrictions looming. The one thing we can control though is our conscientiousness and responses to the uncertainty. We can control how we communicate with and care for our customers. This isn’t only kindness or a “messaging initiative,” this is a critical strategy that’s responding to what consumers need right now. 

Consumers (ahem…people) have been deeply affected by the uncertainty and fear that 2020 served up. What does this mean for consumer behavior? Consumers are more confident than ever in their feelings and values. And those feelings and values will play a role in their purchasing decisions.

Values Matter

Deloitte recently came out with its 2021 Global Marketing Trends report, and the title pretty much says it all: Find Your Focus. It’s been a murky year and consumers–just like all of us–are seeking clarity. 

Loosely quoting from the report, here are the top seven marketing trends according to Deloitte:

  • Purpose: Flourishing brands will know why they exist and who they are built to serve. 
  • Agility: Successful marketers will invest in agile marketing strategies, based on nimble organizational roadmaps and leveraging relevant, digital tools.
  • Human connection and experience: Organizations should reflect and support the values, emotions and actions of those they are built to serve. For many, this means reprioritizing human connection over speed-to-market and efficiency. 
  • Trust: Trust is earned when what’s promised is what’s delivered. Messaging and performance must be transparent, consistent and reliable. 
  • Participation: Brands should foster customer engagement on a deeper level, going beyond low-touch, low effort participation (e.g feedback, like reviews and comments) to more active participation (e.g. developing content, co-creation of product and initiatives).
  • Fusion: Focus on innovative brand partnerships that move beyond point products and solutions to understand human needs in a more fundamental way. “People don’t need cars, they need to get from point A to point B.”

SIA Take: We’re in the business of inspiring people to get outside and find joy in life; on skis, snowboards, snowshoes, fat bikes, etc. We are purpose-driven brands and retailers that thrive on human connection and experiences, it’s our thing. It’s interesting that at this time when people crave clarity and connection, one of the biggest consulting firms in the world is zeroing in on what specialty brands and businesses have embodied and championed for years. So, our advice to you, keep it up (and double down)!

Optimism Matters

Maybe he’s born with it; maybe it’s a vaccine? Reuters is giving President-elect Joe Biden some credit for record highs in worldwide stock indexes and (surprisingly) a surge in crude prices (as of Monday, November 9). It seems investors have optimism for  improved trade relations under a Biden administration. 

While Biden can take some credit, the primary motor powering the upturn is promising vaccine news. In coordination with German partner BioNTech SE, Pfizer Inc. announced its COVID-19 vaccine may be 90% effective in preventing infection.

Calling it a light at the end of the tunnel, Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at Independent Advisor Alliance said: “The vaccine is really driving markets… It’s a game-changer in terms of consumer spending and consumer behavior and it augurs well for future economic activity as we begin to see a reversal of trends caused by the pandemic.”

Skiing Matters

No one describes skiing as the interplay of a wood and steel plank with a snow-covered surface. It’s freedom, fun, exhilaration, peace, movement, excitement, challenge. 

The skiing and snowboarding experience will be different this year no doubt. Maybe that’s okay.  

Talking to the Salt Lake Tribune, Nathan Rafferty, CEO of Ski Utah, said, “In a lot of ways, it might be a little bit more soulful ski experience: back to the reason we all started skiing to begin with, which is for the skiing. And a lot of this ancillary stuff maybe takes a backseat for this year.”

We understand ancillary is also a synonym for profit center, and the fiscal pressure is real. But in the lemonade from lemons department, do you have an opportunity to re-tap into your customers’ pure love of the sport? Could this be the emotional impetus to re-energize flat numbers and once again grow the sport? 

SIA Take: COVID-related restrictions increased interest in the outdoors for many this year. The hope is that forward momentum lends itself to growth in the winter outdoor community. This season is all about providing a safe and welcoming space for newcomers, regulars and visitors. Bringing freedom, fun and peace back to peoples lives in what has been a very difficult year. Change inevitably brings difficulties, but at the end of the day, it’s supposed to be about getting people outside and on the snow. How can you do that, while creating the best experience possible for your end consumer? A good start is going back to the basics: A lot of communication, patience, empathy and good ol’ customer service.

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