Adapting Your Marketing During Covid-19

  • Strategy
  • April 30, 2020
  • by Hannah Spicer
  • 5 minute read

During any crisis, your marketing and messaging may need to change. Putting your customer first will help you get this right. We hear from Marketing Expert, Hannah Spicer, on how becoming customer centric will get you through.

We're over a month into lockdown and it looks as though we are some way away from business-as-usual, in terms of offices, schools, shops and restaurants being open. There is no doubt that consumers are spending more time online than ever and that brands are focussing on digital, but how are retailers already adapting their marketing to the pandemic and what steps can you take to get to the other side?

For me, it’s about a fundamental business practice that I have always believed to be key to success: customer centricity. My definition of customer centric is putting the customer and their needs and interests at the heart of every decision you make.

Though this isn’t a new idea, by any means. Howard Schultz, previous CEO of Starbucks, talked about having 2 spare chairs at every senior management meeting: 1 for the employees and 1 for the customer. Every decision they made had to make both their team and their customers proud. When working at Harvey Nichols from 2004-2010, we were invited to read ‘Hug your customers’, a book all about customer centricity written by Jack Mitchell, owner of clothing stores in the US. The book draws a straight line from customer service to business success.

Why is this more important now more than ever? As highlighted in the Business of Fashion State of Fashion 2020 Coronavirus Update report, “during a crisis, people crave connection and brands who are completely absent will lose mindshare.” And ultimately, you can’t connect with your customer if you aren’t putting them first. So, how do you do this?

Six Steps to Customer Centricity


Listen to and understand what your customers are looking for during this time. What are they posting on social media channels and forums? What are they contacting your customer service team about? If in doubt, ask your audience directly what they want to hear from you at this time. Ask them how you can help them. You can do this via Insta Stories or, if you have a regular focus group, on a more intimate level. Offer customers easier ways to communicate with you via Online Chat and WhatsApp

Ultimately, what they are looking for is connection, protection and distraction.


Communicate with them where they are, both physically and mentally. Whilst it’s undeniable that everyone is living very different versions of lockdown right now, we do have some fundamental things in common. Nobody is going anywhere. Everybody is missing their friends and family. Everybody is concerned about the future. So, be human, and talk about your own experiences now. Help them daydream about what they are going to do when this is all over.

In terms of channels, social media and email are seeing a bigger focus than ever from retailers. The increase in time spent online means you have your customers’ attention for longer. So, increase live content on social media, and make sure both your newsletters and automated emails are adapted and optimised to the situation.


Maintain your tone of voice. You shouldn’t change your tone of voice, but adapt it. If you're always casual and employ humour, carry on doing this. Stay true and relevant to your brand and your product. Sweaty Betty is posting endless memes about everyone wearing leggings, which is clever because a) it’s true b) it’s their best selling product and c) it’s funny. And fundamentally, it speaks to their ethos of supporting and empowering women — there’s no judgement in their tone that people are wearing leggings everyday. There is understanding and unity.


Build long-lasting, more connected relationships with the customer that will keep you in contact with them. You have to be present and open up as a brand. Tell them the story of your business, your products, your archives, your team, your ethics. It’s imperative that you share your brand values, because that is what is driving consumer purchase decisions. Note: If you are thinking about what matters to customers, sustainability should be firmly on your radar. The movement of conscious consumption has been hugely accelerated by COVID-19.


Provide new services or products that meet the customers' needs now. If you are a beauty brand, offer workshops on how to do the ultimate at-home facial. Provide self-isolation gift packages that people can send to loved ones. Recipe box company, Mindful Chef, has just launched a new one-off Care Box in response to customer behaviour, that enables you to send someone a package of fresh food.

Also, involve customers in your brand in new ways and offer them activities to pass the time. Fashion brand, Dundas, has launched an illustration competition, encouraging anyone to share their artistic interpretation of any Dundas piece with the chance to be featured at Conde Nast College. Jewellery brand, Maya Magal, invited their audience to design their own ring, with the winning design being made and delivered.


Support the wider community — most importantly your staff, keyworkers and those who are vulnerable. Customers want to understand how you are keeping your teams safe, and also how you are doing what you can to thank those on the front line and help those in need. This is a great place for collaboration - smaller brands are working together on charity initiatives, whilst bigger brands are completely rewiring their companies to produce PPE. All of this will be remembered when we are on the other side.

In summary, listen to customers, put them at the heart of your business and your communications, and be genuine and engaging. Every brand should now consider itself in the service industry, as we come together to help each other through this challenging time.


Hannah Spicer

Hannah Spicer is an E-commerce and Digital Marketing Consultant with over 15 years experience working at fashion and luxury retailers, including Harvey Nichols, Stella McCartney and Kurt Geiger. She launched [Hannah Spicer Consulting]( in June 2019, to help brands develop their e-commerce businesses to achieve increased revenue and active customer base.

Recommended reading

27 March 2020


Brands’ COVID-19 Responses

23 March 2020


E-commerce Quick-wins Through COVID-19

Popular articles

11 October 2021


Everything You Need to Know About Shopify Markets

29 September 2021


The Brands Using Tech to Make E-Commerce More Socially-Conscious

14 September 2021


Buy Now Pay Later Solutions for Your Shopify Plus Store

11 August 2021


Hierarchy of E-Commerce UX Needs

20 July 2020


How to Sell Internationally with Shopify

02 November 2020


Migrating from Magento to Shopify Plus

05 August 2019


Headless Commerce Using Shopify Plus

25 September 2020


Why Shopify Plus?

02 March 2020


Biggest Brands on Shopify

22 April 2020


35 Ways to Improve Your E‑Commerce Conversion Rate

01 March 2019


Shopify Plus: Multi-Store vs Multi-Currency

26 June 2020


Brands Selling Internationally on Shopify

09 October 2019


CCPA and Shopify: What it is and How it Affects my Store

14 August 2020


Everything you Need to Know About ADA and Shopify

21 July 2019


101 Best Shopify Stores for Design Inspiration

Be the first to hear about what’s hot in e‑commerce and Shopify Plus. Straight to your inbox.

By providing your email, you agree for us to contact you via email with e‑commerce advice. Your data is stored securely and we never pass it on to third parties.