A marketing executive explores how consumer-buying attitudes will unfold over the coming months—and how marketers and business owners should respond.

Ric Militi, CEO and executive creative director for InnoVision Marketing Group

As a marketer for over 30 years, I’ve seen many good and bad times but nothing so dramatic and life-altering as the COVID-19 global pandemic. So, in the past weeks, I have immersed myself in reading research studies and various articles, reflection and talking to clients. 

Based on what I’ve gathered so far, combined with my instinct, below is what I have surmised as to how consumer-buying attitudes will unfold over the coming months and what we as marketers and business owners might expect.

The fear, panic and quarantine period

The first period started in early March 2020 and will continue through the lift of the quarantines. With this, came uncertainty and panic. 


So, when it comes to marketing and consumers, there are three marketing hurdles that the majority of businesses, those that offer non-essential products and services, must overcome, communicate and address in their current advertising and messaging. The first, “Right now, I only need the essentials (food, water and shelter), so tell me why I should buy your product now?”

The second is: “I fear I may catch the COVID-19 virus during any unnecessary interactions, and my primary concern is protecting myself and my family from being infected. So, tell me how you’re going to make my interaction with you safe and how you’re going to take every precaution to ensure you are not going to infect me with the virus?”

Lastly, retailers must address the question: “I am afraid to spend money now, especially on non-essentials; how will you address that by offering me deep discounts, value, free delivery, deferred payments, no interest financing, etc.?”

It’s important to note if you do persuade a consumer to purchase during this period, adding a humanitarian message to your communication and offer will strengthen your brand and build post-COVID-19 loyalty.


Communicate often and in the right places with messages that demonstrate your understanding of the crisis and how you are addressing it. Offer relevant and truthful content to establish yourself as a compassionate and helpful brand. During this time, what would ordinarily be considered excessive posting on social media platforms is acceptable, especially for essential businesses such as food outlets, etc. So, create relevant, helpful and informative posts that are timed strategically throughout the day to keep your customers informed daily and often. The tone of your communication should not be depressing or have a doomsday feel or sound – it should be positive and optimistic. 

As for platforms, digital media and live TV is where you’ll find people during this period. With everyone quarantined, people are sutured to their phones, browsing for any tidbits of good news they can find in articles and on websites. People that ordinarily didn’t participate in social media are seeing it as a way to stay connected and informed. When people are watching TV, they’re watching the news and live programming or viewing app-based programming and escaping into their favorite on-demand shows. 

Companies that market effectively, strategically and compassionately during this period will be the big winners when this nightmare is over. This takes a strong stomach and a solid backbone, but staying in touch is a true sign of a great friend – and treating your customers as friends is a great marketing strategy in any marketing environment and even greater now. 


The reprieve period

This next period begins immediately when the quarantines are lifting and people can start to resume normal activities. This period could continue for up to six months and barring any resurgence from COVID-19 will diminish with each day.

People will continue being fearful and anxious, causing them to behave cautiously and to be reluctant to put their defenses and fears aside. Businesses will need to continue to use the same marketing strategies outlined in the “fear and quarantine period,” with slight modifications based on the business levels they are experiencing during this period. That is especially true when it comes to giving customers the greatest value with any payment deferments for large ticket items. 

The businesses that build relationships and trust during this period will be the winners when normalcy returns. Use this period to build your brand and demonstrate to your customers that you care and that you will go to extreme measures to help them regain trust by creating unique and special offers with high value.

Continue with sincere, authentic and altruistic messaging and do it often. This is your opportunity to build an unbreakable bond with your costumers. Show them you care more about them and their families than you do about your company’s bottom line.


Begin to shift your communication away from COVID-19 and to messages that demonstrate value and your brand. The consumers you’ve created trusting and caring relationships with during the previous months will repay you with their loyalty and their pocketbooks. 

At this point, business levels have resumed to normal or better. By now, retailers should abandon all COVID-19 messaging. People will not want or need you to remind them of the darkest period in the modern world. You should have a robust and strategic marketing plan that plays well into the new post-COVID-19 normal. What that is, remains to be seen. 

Innovision Marketing Group media buying, marketing and web development firm located in San Diego, California.