Flying High: The Canadian Economy Is Back, Baby
What to do now that the new normal is the old normal
During the pandemic, there were many different ways of looking at the state of the economy. For those of us in the marine industry, there was one way of looking at it in particular that told us everything we needed to know:
Flights were way down. Boat sales were way up.
This made intuitive sense, even if few of us saw it coming. People couldn't spend on international travel due to travel restrictions, so they spent on luxury and recreational goods instead.
Things have changed, since then. Most industries that had a boom during the pandemic have slowed back down to pre-pandemic levels of consumer demand. Likewise, most industried that felt the crunch during the pandemic have seen demand climb back up to pre-pandemic numbers.
A new report from Statistics Canada supports this. The latest numbers show that travel has just about bounced back to its pre-pandemic levels:
Last week of December 2019: 44,416 (Baseline)
Last week of December 2020: 21,211 (-52.24%)
Last week of December 2021: 29,415 (-33.77%)
Last week of December 2022: 39,850 (-10.28%)
Based on these numbers, Insurgent Marketing projects ~43,374 flights during the last week of December 2023, or just 2.35% below pre-pandemic levels.
The economy is back. People are traveling again.
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What this means for marketers
In 2020, we had to shift a number of our strategies as marketers. A lot of tried, tested, and true strategies and tactics went out the window that year.
So do we just need to roll it back?
The Pivot to Digital
With physical stores closed or limited in capacity, marketers had to focus our efforts on digital sales. This meant investing more in SEO, SEM, website usability, and e-commerce.
With the economy back in full swing and restrictions fully lifted, should we throw all of that away? Of course not. The pivot to digital was nothing more than a kick-in-the-pants for businesses to do what they should have done years ago.
If you haven't embraced digital yet, how are you still in business?
The world got super sensitive during the pandemic. Everyone seemed to be getting upset by everything. We had anti-mask and anti-vaccine protests trying to shut down the economy even more than it already was. It was crazy.
Now that the economy is doing well, have we all regrown our thick skins? Can we go back to being jerks to one another?
Not exactly. The world remains on edge. People are more easily triggered than ever before.
And before anyone thinks I'm talking about liberal snowflakes, I'm also talking about conservative snowflakes, too. Everybody needs to calm the fuck down.
As marketers, though, our job is to communicate to people where they are now. And right now, people are tense. They have their backs up.
So be patient with your customers. Be kind. Don't rock the boat.
Oh boy, this is a big one.
I'm not sure it had anything to do with the pandemic, other than perhaps people having more free time to pay attention to what marketers were up to. But the public has spoken: They find all our data tracking to be creepy, immoral, and, increasingly, illegal.
We need to get smarter about how we use data:
Stop collecting every data point just because we can. Yes, it was convenient. Some things are more important than our convenience.
Start being strategic about what data we need in order to market better. We probably don’t need to know how much porn our customers watch, for example.
Ask yourself: Is this something I'd be comfortable with the whole world knowing about me? If not, why do I feel the right to know it about my customers?
This is a tricky one. The pandemic forced us all to get comfortable with using Zoom and Google Hangouts for everything.
For many consumers, this remains their preferred approach. They don't want to attend things in person. They’re not coming back.
However, many others are sick of sitting at their desks and desperately want the opportunity to connect in person.
My suggestion? Embrace them both. Make sure there is a strong digital component to any in-person event or promotion you may have going on.
Price Sensitivity / Insensitivity
During the pandemic, something funny happened to how people related to their money.
On the one hand, with inflation going through the roof, we all became extremely price conscious. Hardly a day went by without noticing the price of gas or a bag of milk. (In Canada, we drink milk out of bags, like civilized people.)
But, this price consciousness was largely reserved for every day goods like fuel and groceries.
At the exact same time, our desire for luxury goods skyrocketed. Cars, musical instruments, kitchen appliances, home renovations, lumber (!!)... they all went way up in price, and we couldn't get enough.
The good news for businesses: No one expects prices to go down.
The bad news: Everyone is fed up with prices going up. They're tired of hearing about supply chain issues. As far as they're concerned, that's your problem now. They've sacrificed enough.
This is potentially great news for businesses that deliver high value for low costs. The catch is that it's harder than ever to deliver on that promise today.
Supply Chain Management
It bears repeating: No one cares about your supply chain problems. If you haven't figured them out by now, you never will.
Get your act together. The general public is all out of fucks to give.
Outside of select industries (like my own marine industry), the pandemic meant one big thing: People were risk averse and didn't want to try new things. This made it harder than ever to attract new customers, and placed greater emphasis on selling to existing customers.
But this should have always been the focus. It's almost always cheaper and more profitable to sell to an existing customer than to attract a new one. What's more, the better your serve your customers, the more they'll bring new customers to you.
If you've done a good job of retaining your customers over the past few years, keep it up! If not, you really need to fix this pronto.