The key learning from China on COVID-19 for both medics and marketers is speed – speed in containing the virus and speed in recouping losses.

Thanks to the actions taken to limit the spread of the virus, new infections continue to drop and life seems to be returning to some semblance of normality – although there’s no sense of complacency – allowing marketing and media strategists to consider their next moves.

For Dennis Potgraven, Chief Strategy Officer for Greater China, Havas Group, “it is all about speed.” (For more details, including seven recommended strategies, read his exclusive WARC article in full: How to recoup lost COVID-19 business — it’s all about speed.)


This article 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.

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He observes how, during the last few weeks of stabilisation, several categories, like personal care products, have recovered, helped by holiday campaigns such as Women’s Day when Tmall invested RMB100 million in vouchers.

“Livestreaming and short videos are contributing to the rebound as consumers are eager for light-hearted and entertaining content that creates fun digital moments during daily activities like shopping for groceries or food,” he adds.

This has implications for media strategy. TV ratings increased during January and February but online media usage in short videos, OTV, social networks, live-streaming e-commerce, and gaming saw even more significant growth rates.

During the stabilisation period, Potgraven notes that, whereas gaming has returned to normal, short video and OTV usage remain at high levels.

His advice to marketers is to “be fast in getting your roadmap together and approved, based on the impact on and prediction for your category.”

Health products, for example, will certainly see an increase in demand, and, more generally, the timing of the initial outbreak – just ahead of Chinese New Year – means that consumers have high spending power stored in savings.

About 77% of people surveyed by CEIC and MallToWin said that they saved money during this year’s CNY – and that, along with government policies to boost the domestic economy and consumption, is likely to result in a surge of pent-up demand. Marketers have to be ready.

Sourced from WARC