The new essential: the power of marketing

Darcey Sergison July 23, 2020

In a world where everything seems to have been turned upside down, so too has the definition of what is essential. With products in supermarkets dwindling and deliveries no longer instantaneous, marketing is crucial in deciding what people will be spending their money on.

Despite the current pandemic, consumption must go on in order to allow a consumerist world to continue post pandemic. This means that what people considered as essential before this ordeal is now a luxury, and health is a priority rather than a luxury product. But with marketing having to adapt quickly in these times, the new essential is being created in the midst of this crisis at the expense of some companies.

Health is the new must have ‘product’, with vitamin supplements and home remedies enjoying a boom as people attempt to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The demand for fitness gear has increased overnight. Instagram and Facebook have been filled with fitness-inspired advertisements, particularly targeted at those that have more time to take up a workout routine alongside their children.

Woman pushing supermarket cart during COVID-19

In fact, marketing has been so successful for sports clothes and athleisure that these items are increasingly being snapped up and most small brand websites are selling out fast. The ethics and safety of supply chains has also become a key issue due to many people now experiencing furlough and realising the importance of a steady income. There is increased interest in the plight of factory workers around the world and the measures companies can take to look after them.

Personal trainers have had to market their workouts and training plans by taking their brands online. Trainers, such as James Middleton, have enhanced the use of their increasingly large followings on Instagram and are doing free live workouts in order to attract new potential customers as well as to encourage health kicks in their followers. Celebrities have also turned their talents to showing new health routines that everyone can adapt into their lives. Rio and Kate Ferdinand have used this period to start their own Youtube Channel, Ferdinand Fitness, as well as setting challenges to encourage daily workouts. Health is the new essential and with increasing awareness of this, marketing has adapted to embrace this ethos.

Luxury brands are amongst the most affected by this pandemic as their products are no longer seen as essential parts of life. As Asian nations emerge from the virus, luxury brands have found a new set of demands and expectations. The reopening of China and Hong Kong has shown that even for the highest grossing luxury brands their customers are not returning as first assumed. Instead of pining for the luxury experience in these stores, customers have turned to the importance of health and less expensive alternatives. This has led to a stripping back to the ‘essentials’ of luxury brands, with their marketing assuming a humbler background.

Campaigns that were once eccentric and loaded with busy backgrounds are returning to promoting a simplistic but powerful shoot. Facetime is now the new studio with models having to style and direct themselves. Bella Hadid shooting for Jacquemas in the first major Facetime campaign for a luxury fashion brand has brought attention to how luxury marketing is changing. As well as this, Vogue has led their field by asking for a photo diary from top models to demonstrate how everyone is coping around the world from the inside. This has shown how fashion brands understand the importance of everyday life and that their brand must adapt to this to remain successful.

Women at home during pandemic isolation doing workout to stay in shape

Marketing has also been crucial for smaller businesses as they must adapt their products and promotions. In particular, with the ethos of shopping changing, customers now more than ever want to give back to the heroes of this crisis – carers and healthcare workers. With luxury brands, such as the Armani Group, changing their manufacturing to make personal protective equipment or free masks being included in online deliveries, smaller brands are also having to pursue this trend. Screen time has increased for many people, meaning that these platforms must be utilised by small brands in order to gain publicity. The new headband brand OhhRahRah not only collaborated with the Trussell Trust by giving £1 from every order to local food banks but also have created ‘bands for carers’. This marketing success has demonstrated the importance of meeting demands, such as the discomfort expressed by many carers who wear face masks daily. OhhRahRah have created headbands which prevent ear discomfort and give back to the community. Combined with a sense of community pride, the feel-good factor can sell.

While staying at home has had its difficulties for many reasons, it has meant that pollution levels have lowered with views stretching further across London and other cities around the world. Therefore, emerging brands are incentivised to explore their environmental credentials.

Health is the new form of wealth with designer bags being less in demand but workouts and supplements being snapped up. Marketing is being stripped back to the basics of what we need and how we will consume it. In this changing sense of normal only time will tell what the essential products of the future will be and how this will shape the future of consumption.