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Winnie Pua

Developing new creative muscles post COVID

Many feel the stress and constraints brought forth by this recession. To this, I argue that COVID creates new marketing paradigms that should stimulate new creative muscles.

You may be a strategic planner, a project manager or a creative. There are now new problems to be identified, new customer behaviours and emotions to learn and consider. And a whole new world of solutions that require ideation.

Clients and brands are asking “What promotion will attract our customer now? What performance KPIs should we set for our CRM programs?”.
How can your new creative muscles build a crystal ball to look beyond this constant flux, and imagine new insights, new solutions?

The power of observation

How do you watch the world burn change? First, you quiet down, observe and feel. Some do it via meditation. I find it helpful to feel and not think customer behaviour.

Stalking at a supermarket

Working on a branding project for craft beer recently, I spent ~2 hours at the supermarket alcohol section, scrutinising how shoppers touch, talk and browse.

craft beer

I even followed some around, peeping into their cart. Where did they go first? What else did they buy? I noticed tons of snacks, meat,  NO VEGETABLES!  Craft beer drinkers hate vegetables? I love my carefree wandering and believe that heightens my sensitivity and curiosity. I imagined these shoppers returning home, putting on their favourite Netflix show, having beer and a chat. Full-on stalker syndrome and quiet observation allow me to think, feel, imagine.

A good ear

Ah… the art of listening. Whether to chatter, to feedback, to issues, experts recommend listening with empathy, to get the most understanding. In a recent project where we interview  social heroes during lockdown; it is never about just what they did, but how they feel, that truly tells the story, that truly connects people.

Yes, yes and maybe

Ideas lead to more ideas! Indeed, removing filters, biases, and having an open mind (and attitude) often aids in broadening our perspectives.  Learning about some natural biases like the Semmelweis reflex can help us avoid the trappings of our own mind.

The rabbit hole brainstorming. where will it lead us? In the post COVID world, new consumer behaviours will groom a whole new set of habits – good or bad. For example, WFH creates multitasking behaviours which changes communications patterns. The spike in growth of online shopping, increasing in 75% month-on-month page views and 25% month-on-month order counts, since April 2020 (Source: Bazaar’s Network Asia). What’s important to customers now; quality, price, brand or actually just availability and safety? An open attitude will help us embrace changes and strategically trend spot.

So what if?

With new problems and insights come new solutions. Or perhaps newer than new! In our industry where tools, technologies, ideas flow fluidly, there are often new techniques or cross-industry adoption; with national healthcare doing highly personalised with location-based tracking etc.

How we articulate brand purpose, how we engage staff and other stakeholders, how to spread positivity authentically, are just some areas where we have seen innovative communications.

Recently, I came to know of kkday. Similar to Klook and other digital travel agents, business took a hard hit with travel curbs, movement restrictions, restaurants and other business not in operations. kkday swiftly switched their offerings, to totting travel memorabilia, favourite local delights you buy back when travelling, and promoting unique local experiences, delighting millennium crowds seeking experiences despite travel curbs. I applaud this creative spirit. Indeed,  1% positive action every day, little brave steps, compounded, will forge a road ahead into the unknown.

It’s okay to make bold hypothesis, to be fearless. Unprecedented crisis means may mean we have to take unprecedented risks too.  The worst is to fail, and when muscles tear, they rebuild stronger.

Determined to be curious

Ultimately, smart is the person who stays curious, who will continue to learn.  The ability to explore, looking for different paths, will help us build the language of a whole new generation.

Let’s get those creative muscles pumping, building long-term creative resilience, so we add strength and flexibility to our creative repertoire.