Changes in Marketing Messaging - Consumer Electronics (2)
The COVID-19 virus has radically shaped the marketing strategies of electronics brands. While most rely on emphasizing safety, staff well-being, high standards, and new hygiene measures, others have made philanthropy a flagship element of their response. Some have utilized social media platforms, banners and videos, and a consistent theme across brands is unity. Most brands highlight how their product can specifically alleviate the difficulties that come with coronavirus.
- Apple's marketing has occupied both the terrain of its website and social media. The company's marketing message has shifted towards the acclamation of medical personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic and charitable donations towards them. The approach employed here is to emphasize Apple's charitable character, as it raised $15 million in donations worldwide.
- Coupled with this is an expression of gratitude towards the "heroic" efforts of health professionals and the "determination" of staff. These ideas are condensed into a sense of togetherness, with frequent mentions of "family" and "community".
- Even more recently, on Twitter, CEO Tim Cook gave a personal edge to the marketing strategy, releasing a video of himself revealing the philanthropic efforts of Apple. Over 10 million masks were sourced by Apple for the US and millions more for Europe.
- Before this, other tweets echoed the charitable approach of Apple, including one referencing medical supply donations provided for Protezione Civile in Italy.
- Dell's marketing message has shifted towards public health insights and donations to healthcare. In an approach similar to Apple, the CEO of Dell has reached out personally to his customer base. In a blog post on the official website, Dell detailed its charitable gestures, including an IT infrastructure donation given to Hubei Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in China valued at $853,000.
- More importantly, however, Dell relies heavily on social media and the coronavirus for conveying new marketing messages. In between re-posting images of public health announcements, Michael Dell allies himself with the safety policies of the pandemic, perhaps to keep the brand relevant to the crisis. One tweet shows an image of him wearing a "social distancing expert" t-shirt, while many others reiterate the importance of working at home from a laptop, a key technology of Dell.
- This approach is employed on the official Twitter account of Dell Technologies, advertising simulated online retail experiences and remote workforce solutions.
- Singapore-based telecommunications company StarHub has shifted towards online services and away from brick-and-mortar retail. Yet, though their declaration reveals that many are working from home, front line employees now wear mandatory face masks and must inquire into the travel status of customers. The message on their website emphasizes that cleanliness, safety, and hygiene practices are in operation for both staff and consumers.
- Beyond these safety guidelines, part of StarHub's marketing strategy is grounded in their new 'StarHub Cares Covid-19 Fund', aimed at mitigating hardships for the most vulnerable. This charitable approach follows 3 "ground-up initiatives": raising $300,000 to the Courage fund; creating 2000 welfare care packs for those on lower incomes while funding one month of housing rental costs for 2000 lower-income seniors, and reaching out to more blood donors.
- This fund has achieved considerable success, standing at $650,000 as of the last public update (17/03/2020). The donations come from all levels in the company (the Senior Leadership Team, for example, are offering up to one month salary), and StarHub is committed to matching every dollar contributed.
- To connect directly with customers, StarHub has also offered "free unlimited mobile talk-time" to healthcare professionals, and free preview and video streaming on StarHub Go for everyone.
- A significant shift in Motorola's marketing approach can be traced to news of one of its employees contracting coronavirus in Penang. The Motorola Director of Communications publicly made it clear that the facilities were subsequently being sanitized while they worked with the Ministry of Health.
- Rather than a marketing strategy rooted in philanthropic intentions, it seems Motorola is making efforts to repair its image and prevent further damage to its reputation by emphasizing the importance of "public safety and enterprise customers".
- The company prescribed four key measures, potentially aimed at fostering faith in its health and safety management. These are remote work; restricting travel; avoiding in-person contact, and implementing extra hygiene measures.
- With the whole smartphone industry affected by the pandemic, marketing, in this sense, is about preparing the tech industry to move to new terrain in which remote work is key. Motorola has experienced a 38% decrease in shipments in February, while its factories have been closing.
- A detailed COVID-19 page has been created on Microsoft's website. There are five policies, each marked by an interactive pathogen icon, which are web anchors to the relevant information on the page. A link to this page is accessible from the main Microsoft homepage, making it an enduring banner during the shopping experience.
- The first policy is "a note from our CEO", an open letter to the staff emphasizing unity. It is also revealed that there are AI methods of combating misinformation surrounding COVID-19 and that Microsoft will issue relief funds for local communities susceptible to the virus. A recurrent theme is the admirable treatment of staff, including paying the retail team their regular pay regardless of hours worked.
- Safety of remote work and remote education (the second and third policy, respectively) are encouraged as a technologically feasible alternative that doesn't compromise "collaboration, productivity or security". The point here is likely to reaffirm that standards have not fallen for Microsoft customers.
- The final two policies are technical support and community support. Here, Microsoft is demonstrating its commitment to the customer base.
The initial strategy involved scouring social media to see how, or if, electronics brands responded to the virus. This graduated towards examining the websites of the brands themselves and analyzing the content of statements, letters and policies considered part of their marketing. Lastly, media reports revealing the kinds of charitable acts pursued by electronics leaders and how the industry was negatively affected by the pandemic helped to consolidate this research.