Brands recalibrate to community-building during quarantine

Experiential marketing is in freefall. From the coronavirus-related postponement of the Summer Olympics to empty commuter trains and roads, marketers from numerous industries are scrambling to salvage marketing campaigns built around in-person experiences by pivoting to digital and mobile efforts — forcing them to retool their tried-and-true methods of connecting with audiences. Some brands, such as automakers Ford, Hyundai and Toyota, opted to rework spring campaigns meant to entice consumers into dealerships for spring sales events and instead publicize their respective financial relief programs. Others, however, are dabbling with more interactive ways to forge ties during the coronavirus-related quarantine while trying to meet consumers' changing needs during an unprecedented health crisis by helping them address feelings of isolation. But how can marketers build community when their entire audience is hunkered down at home? And is that promise of community enough to translate into longer-term loyalty or sales? Results for early adopters of virtual community-building strategies are promising, with Chipotle totaling 500 million impressions on daily video sessions for its recent efforts with Zoom. There's even the possibility of an unexpected benefit — easier targeting — though marketers will need to nail down concrete measurement methods as the need for longer-term lockdowns becomes increasingly apparent.

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