As consumers reprioritise their requirements in the face of the coronavirus threat, so marketers need to reassess their communications strategies; a needs-based framework could help, says one academic.

Writing exclusively for WARC, Dr Mansur Khamitov, Assistant Professor of Marketing at Nanyang Business School in Singapore, observes that Abraham Maslow’s well-known hierarchy of needs isn’t actually much to marketers, assuming, as it does, that lower-level need satisfaction is a prerequisite for the emergence of higher-order needs.

“Multiple needs dynamically co-exist and interact,” he points out, which is why he suggests the E.R.G. motivational theory of human behaviour, developed by a psychologist Clayton Alderfer, offers a better framework for marketers in the current environment.

“Applying this framework highlights several notable takeaways for brands and marketers moving forward,” he says.

One thing to note is that the crisis means many people have become considerably less materialistic, possessions-oriented, and status-driven.

That has naturally had an impact on the luxury and non-necessity brands – and a recent New York Times piece highlighted how brands including Burberry, Gucci, Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Michael Kors, Versace, Jimmy Choo, Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman have all slashed their forecasts and cut back on their ambitions.

Unsurprisingly, the global luxury goods sector is bracing for impact not only because of lack of tourists and store closures but also, and importantly, because of lower foot traffic among locals.

“This opens up a clear and compelling possibility for non-luxury segments to tap into this reprioritisation of needs,” says Khamitov.

But that’s only going to be a short-term option, he adds. “While temporarily foregoing luxury and discretionary pursuits in favour of basic necessities would be logically predicted by E.R.G. theory, once it’s all over I won’t be surprised if there’s a resurgence of luxury brands, with people rewarding themselves and their loved ones for having underwent the crisis and coping with the waves of relative uncertainty.”

His advice to luxury brands then is to “start crafting their campaign messages, drawing attention to how their customers and their loved ones have grown both emotionally and psychologically and how they symbolically deserve to be rewarded as a result”.

Read Dr Mansur Khamitov’s article in full: How Alderfer’s E.R.G. Theory can inform post-coronavirus strategy for brands. This is part of a special WARC Snapshot focused on enabling brand marketers to re-strategise amid the unprecedented disruption caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak. 

Sourced from WARC