By all accounts, 2021 has been a much better year for companies than 2020. Brands that survived the economic ups and downs of the pandemic have come out swinging. Yet they’re not back to business as usual. Instead, they’ve had to make many changes to keep up.
Although all sectors have felt pandemic-related seismic shifts, five industries have been significantly impacted. Companies representing these fields have made internal disruptions to satisfy the needs of a market that’s still buying — but not shopping as before.
Below are several industry-specific “refresh” stories. Use them as inspiration for revitalizing your operations, mission, culture or values, no matter what sector you work within.
Affected Industry #1: Casinos
Gambling in-person nosedived starting in March 2020. As state after state enforced lockdowns, casinos everywhere closed. According to Julia Carcamo, president and chief brand strategist at J Carcamo & Associates and founder of Casino Marketing Boot Camp, 2020 casino revenues took a 31% year-over-year hit.
Revenue is stronger today, but people have learned different ways of gambling. As Carcamo points out, table games revenue is down about 13%, possibly due to fewer people coming into casinos. At the same time, online sports betting and iGaming have been soaring. It’s not hard to imagine why: Plenty of consumers turned to digital gambling as a pastime and they like its appeal.
Health-conscious patrons have also affected the overall operation of casinos. Many casinos have historically catered to smokers. After the pandemic’s effects, plenty of customers — especially those from Generation Z — actively avoid places that promote the use of nicotine products. Casinos have had to come up with ways to woo health-concerned adults back into their establishments, such as offering no-smoking zones or going smoke-free.
Key Takeaway: Explore ways to satisfy every customer cohort’s needs, right down to being where they are when they need your products or services most.
Related Article: Forget Digital Transformation – Just Become Digital
Affected Industry #2: Real Estate
Real estate experienced a surprisingly good end to 2020. As inventory decreased, buyers’ bids grew. Still, professionals like Carolyn Boyd, real estate advisor at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, recommend that realtors update their practices.
One of the major trends Boyd noticed is a desire among buyers to invest in smart homes. That is, homes equipped with integrated technology and gadgets. As she notes, “People like buying smarter homes. Homeowners can improve sales just by adding a simple technology like a smart doorbell. Anyone can see who’s at the front door, whether it’s the Uber Eats deliverer or Amazon Prime driver. It’s all an easy, affordable fix that makes houses more attractive.”
In addition to suggesting smart home upgrades, Boyd also notes the bump in people using devices to explore properties. Today, buyers may be willing to go on Zoom tours or engage differently with real estate agents to find their dream homes. Consequently, Boyd feels realty firms must rethink where to place their advertising dollars to get — and give — the most value.
Key Takeaway: Find ways to use the latest technologies to your advantage.
Affected Industry #3: Customer Service
Customer service may be more of a department than an industry, per se. But it’s been rattled so much that it deserves a place on this list. Across the board, customers have begun to see brands’ web presences as their “front doors,” according to Scott Kolman, SVP of Marketing at Five9. After conducting its 2020 Five9 Customer Service Index Survey, the company realized that for many consumers, customer service representatives were people’s only corporate contacts during Covid.
This shows how important the relationship has become between buyers and customer service team members. People who work in customer service can’t be siloed; they must be able to handle all types of calls, from sales to technical questions. Plus, they need to be available. Or, a voice-based, intelligent virtual agent needs to be available to conduct customer “triage” on their behalf.
Kolman believes that guided shopping through video calls with sales assistants and appointment-based shopping are just some of the habits that are here to stay. That means all customer service teams have to rethink their approaches. “Consumers are open to trying new shopping and service experiences,” says Kolman. “Brands must identify the moments where layering a more human connection is possible, including through personalized interactions, proactive engagement to share order and service status updates and relevant promotions, and providing empathetic and quick resolutions when problems arise.”
Key Takeaway: Prioritize the customer experience and remove roadblocks to satisfying interactions.
Affected Industry #4: Health and Wellness
The overall fitness, health and wellness category had one of its best years amid COVID-19 concerns. As consumers became more conscientious about wellness in all its forms, they bought everything from workout equipment to aesthetics products. This was a boon, but only for organizations that paid attention and pivoted hard.
At Nu Skin, CEO Ryan Napierski watched shopper preferences accelerate, grow and shift almost daily at the height of the pandemic. To stay ahead of the curve, his team moved quickly into the digital, mobile-first world. And that meant being available on social media.
Napierski explains that “social media is transforming the way we learn about, shop for and share products we love. Traditional advertising, retail and ecommerce are being disrupted by influencer marketing.” At this stage, his company has renewed its marketing strategy to focus more on digitally connecting with buyers.
Key Takeaway: If what you’ve been doing no longer works, try something else without delay.
Affected Industry #5: Marketing
Companies didn’t stop marketing in 2020, but they scaled back in big ways. Consequently, third-party marketing firms were forced to figure out how to avoid losing clients. Those that got creative, like Hawke Media, reinvented themselves to become valuable partners.
Erik Huberman, Hawke Media’s founder and CEO, knew the marketing industry dip wouldn’t last forever. However, he also realized that flexibility was in order to satisfy nervous customers. He believes “you have to lean into a crisis and be proactive.”
To that end, he and his “wartime” teammates began doubling down on helping their clients. They reminded them of their ability to set up short-term agreements. And they held their hands to maintain collaborative efforts and assuage fears. “Our willingness to be flexible and empathetic built a stronger relationship and positioned us as more than a marketing agency with clients,” he said. “We became their trusted partners.”
Key Takeaway: Sit on the same side of the table as your client and become an ally instead of a vendor.
Not sure your industry has had any shakeups? Don’t be so sure. Now just might be the perfect time to review and modernize every aspect of your business.
Currently serving as a communications director for Oracle, Steve Olenski is a true unicorn in that he has the unique ability to combine real-world marketing experience with a highly impressive journalistic background. A regular contributor to Forbes for 10 years, his work has also appeared in other leading publications including Ad Age, Adweek, Business Insider, Huffington Post, Marketing Land, MarTech Today, ESPN among many others.