A great deal has changed over the last two years: how people work, what they do in their free time, and the things they value — just to name a few.
Understandably, these changes have had a large impact on how brands can and should interact with consumers. What worked wonders in 2019 — flashy OOH ads in big city centers or extensive subway campaigns — may no longer be the ticket in 2022.
From limited consumer mobility during the pandemic to a forecast rise in consumer relocation post-pandemic — it’s vital that brands keep their fingers on the pulse of consumer trends if they want to remain competitive.
So, let’s explore these two identified trends and discuss how they have and will continue to impact brands — from methods of advertising to brand messaging to target audience makeup.
How Has Consumer Mobility Impacted Brands?
One of the biggest changes brought about by the pandemic has been in consumer mobility. Cooped up at home with nowhere to go but the grocery store — people spent significantly less time in normally high-foot-traffic areas.
Add in the fact that a huge number of people shifted to a home office setup, and you’ll understand how monumentally mobility was impacted these past two years. The places that brands used to be able to reach a large audience with marketing campaigns — public transportation, downtown OOH billboards, etc. — will no longer be nearly as effective.
And even in 2022, many have decided to remain in a home office setup — meaning their daily mobility will continue to be limited. What does that mean for brands? They’ll need to adapt to both the documented and forecast changes in consumer mobility — or risk losing their connection with target audiences.
Furthermore, due to the stress of living in small apartments with a lack of open-air entertainment options, many residents of large cities began to feel a draw towards more space and fewer crowds. This has led to a growing interest in relocating to smaller cities and suburbs.
Changes like these are a natural reaction to the ways in which the Covid-19 pandemic impacted the world. And they will continue to have a real influence on how and where brands are able to connect with their target audiences going forward.
Post-Pandemic Relocation Is On The Rise
Over the last two years, it may have seemed like a lot of people were relocating due to the stresses of the pandemic. But, in 2020-21, the moving rate in the US actually reached its lowest point since 1950 — only 8.4%.
To be fair, this number is “a continuation of a decades-long migration decline, as well as a general demographic stagnation across the nation” — so it wasn’t caused by the pandemic. But the personal and financial instability that the pandemic to contributed didn’t help, either.
However, as vaccination rates increase and infection rates slowly decrease, more people are considering leaving big cities for the haven of “urbanized suburbia”. Something smaller and safer, but with the feel and many of the amenities of a large city is understandably very appealing in 2022.
Stay-at-home orders and state-mandated quarantines left many consumers feeling stir-crazy and closed in — which planted the seed of relocation consideration. After all, the pandemic wouldn’t have been as difficult if you had a large backyard for your kids to play in or nearby outdoor areas to hike, swim, or exercise.
But it’s not just to smaller cities and suburbs that consumers are showing a willingness to relocate. A recent study conducted by Wakefield Research for Graebel Companies Inc. revealed that “80% of workers would relocate for work during the pandemic, and there’s a growing interest in relocation post-COVID.”
Furthermore, 59% stated that they are “more willing to relocate for work now than they were prior to the pandemic”. This survey, which included data from 1,000 workers in nine global markets, clearly shows that post-pandemic relocation is a growing trend — and an opportunity for brands to reassess their marketing strategies.
After all, to effectively target the right consumers, brands need to know where and how they live. And there’s a good chance that this will change for many consumers over the next year or two.
3 Tips To Better Reach Consumers in 2022
In order to connect with consumers effectively, brands need to know where to reach them. And with all the changes that the last two years brought about, it’s high time that brands reevaluate their strategies.
To better reach consumers in 2022 and beyond, the following tips are imperative.
1. Reevaluate Your Geotargeting
For years, geotargeting big city centers was a go-to strategy for many a successful brand. With access to millions of potential impressions due to daily high foot traffic, it was a logical choice to geotarget these areas — especially for those looking to increase their brand awareness.
However, with the limited mobility that the pandemic has created and fewer consumers choosing to visit — and live in — big cities, brands must adjust their advertising campaigns if they want to remain competitive.
Therefore, in 2022, smart brands will need to reevaluate their geotargeting to ensure they’re still able to reach the target audiences that matter — meaning they need to follow their customers. They also need to reconsider their target audience makeup — ask themselves if their chosen audience segmentation still makes sense post-pandemic.
Ultimately, geotargeting the new areas (suburbs, small cities, etc.) that many consumers will move to will allow brands to more successfully connect with consumers. However, to identify which areas their target audiences live in and frequent, companies will need access to detailed consumer data.
Bear in mind, with the sunset of third-party cookies and the rise of zero-party data, brands will need to be careful about how they gather and utilize customer information going forward — all in keeping with the laws of the countries they operate in.
2. Consider Brand Partnerships With Smaller, Localized Brands
With many consumers showing a willingness to relocate to smaller cities and suburbs — and an overall willingness to move post-pandemic — companies should consider trying out new methods of advertising — aka setting up brand partnerships with smaller, more localized brands.
In an effort to fight back against hyper-globalism and support local communities, the trend of localism has been on the rise for years. And with more and more consumers choosing to shop with small, local brands rather than big chains, for both practical and ethical reasons, brands would be smart to align themselves with strong, local companies.
So, to lean into this trend and better connect with target audience members who have already or will relocate, brands should test out a few partnerships with local companies to see how they resonate with consumers in 2022.
3. Try Your Hand At A Direct Mail Campaign
Though this may seem like a relic of the past, direct mail campaigns are gaining steam again — and brands that want to try out new forms of brand messaging to reach their target audiences post-pandemic should give it a spin.
Considering the lack of mobility most consumers have experienced over the past two years, it makes sense that direct mail has seen a resurgence. After all, if people aren’t going out and seeing ads in public places, brands still need to find a personalized way to connect.
Direct mail campaigns allow brands to communicate with consumers via a far less competitive channel than online ads or social media. And with the ability to send physical mail to both current and potential customers, this marketing method can nurture existing customers and target new ones.
It’s a win-win.
Ultimately, it will be the brands who invest time and effort to reacquaint themselves with their target audiences who will come out on top. The last two years have changed so much about the world, and brands that refuse to evolve with the times will get left behind.
So, to meet the challenges of decreased consumer mobility and the rise of consumer relocation — do your research, listen to what your consumer data tells you, and don’t be afraid to try out new marketing strategies.
Cory Schroeder is a Senior Content Marketing Manager who enjoys exploring and writing about all things brand-related. With a background in content creation and management, SEO, and copywriting, Cory brings half a decade of experience to her role at Latana Brand Tracking.