Ascential Insight

Rebounding from COVID-19 and emerging stronger in 2020

There are ways for business to emerge stronger from the coronavirus crisis and closer to customers by identifying and grasping opportunities in the midst of the many changes taking place to the way consumers and markets are acting.

Here are the top associated market trends that Ascential, the specialist global information company, and its associated companies have identified:

(Interview video by Dan Cotton, Managing Director of Ascential APAC)


The COVID-19 crisis is impacting attitudes towards trust as consumers respond well to brands – and even countries –  they don't see only as 'fair weather friends'. This provides space for brands to expand trust with increasingly conscious consumers, for instance by introducing new business models that add value and place your brand on the side of the consumer.

“This crisis shall pass, and when the dust settles, customers will remember the brands and companies that have taken pains to build rapport and trust with consumers.”

—Amit Narayan, Partner - India and South Asia, Control Risks commenting in an opinion piece published by WARC




Brands with authentic credentials in health, sustainability and environmental friendliness can benefit with better listing placements and more effective marketing.

Unilever’s top 40 brands are focused on sustainability; they’re growing 50% faster than other portfolio brands and account for 60% of growth.

— WARC Marketer’s Toolkit 2020

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How brands deal with the crisis will shape consumer views in the future, and where appropriate and authentic, they should demonstrate brand care for the consumer, society and the environment.


“Brands have a powerful role to play in society – more than 75% of marketers agree that brands need to take a stand on social issues.”

— WARC Marketer’s Toolkit 2020




The COVID-19 virus is having a huge impact on consumer behavior with consumers going out less, spending more time online, spending more on life essentials, and paying much more attention to health factors in all ways.

“With the outbreak putting physical and mental health into perspective and focus, consumer spending will continue to focus on health-related categories and activities that improve well-being including for those in self isolation.”

— WGSN Chinese Consumer Outlook 2020 report




The COVID-19 crisis is also changing consumer attitudes towards life purpose and priorities, which presents opportunities for brands to define what a meaningful journey through life means, and align marketing, product and service offerings with emerging values and changing life priorities – the importance of good health, looking after loved ones, focusing on long-term achievements.

“Go beyond the product [in marketing]…A lot of international brands are afraid to say the wrong thing and cause offense during this time. Showing empathy during this crisis is far better than being silent.”

— Zoe Cheng, head of growth at Shanghai-based retail tech firm Cosmose, in an interview with WARC



6. Social commerce

The lines between social content and ecommerce are becoming increasingly blurred, especially during the COVID-19 crisis as consumers shift retail purchases online. The popularity of user-generated content is driving retailers to embrace more creative approaches to product content and reviews, driving engagement with its consumers.

“The most important change is that we at L’Oréal are increasingly focusing on social commerce. For example, we need to know how to invest in different social platforms, such as WeChat in China, and how to improve product availability as well to motivate consumers to make the final purchase.”

— Irene Chen, Digital Project Manager at L’Oréal, commenting in an interview with Edge by Ascential




Brand operations should focus on consumer feedback and data, optimizing product and services to create a seamless online-merging-with-offline customer experience that builds stickiness.

“The outbreak is a crisis, but opportunities also abound in it. We are seeing rapid growth in online orders, which proved that our digital transformation that started two years ago was the right decision.”

— Peter Huang, CEO at  Sun Art Retail Group




As shoppers turn to online shopping and put pressure on supply chains infrastructure that retailers are not used to, replenishment of the right products, to the right places, at the right time becomes critical for both the retailer in terms of converting the sale, but long term for the brands retaining their existing customer base and capitalizing on the opportunity to capture new buyers.

“The choices available to consumers are increasing all the time, and the traditional functional attributes of a single product can no longer easily impress our consumers. One of our solutions is ‘consumer-centric digitalization’, leveraging data to seize the opportunities provided by New Retail to target customers and improve supply chain efficiency.”

— Lynne Xing, director of Nestlé China’s ecommerce supply chain operation, commenting at Edge by Ascential’s APAC Ecommerce Accelerator Summit




Consumption among young consumers is increasingly driven by social connections and insider knowledge among communities, and brands using relationship-based marketing are able to both offer product knowledge and also build a community where likeminded customers can interact. In China, private WeChat groups have emerged as a major group-buying channel during the virus outbreak, because they have been a key source of information for consumers. Brands can use the groups to build trust, interactivity and community into the brand experience.

“Relationship-based marketing approaches will be key to connecting, where brands and platforms not openly offer product knowledge but also build a community where like-minded customers can interact.”

— WGSN Chinese Consumer Outlook 2020 report




Brands should adjust media investments based on the moods and expectations of consumers and prioritize longer-term brand-building over performance advertising.

“Creating experiences that they’ll remember so that you have to work a little less hard with performance marketing to get them to buy…”

– Ivan Pollard, Chief Marketing Officer, General Mills - WARC Marketer's Toolkit 2020

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Ascential, the specialist global information company, combines intelligence, data and insights to drive growth in the digital economy and is uniquely positioned to deliver expertise to brands. The company and its associated members provide a framework with allows brands to shape strategy, and to be effective in uncertain times:

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To receive in-depth reports on the COVID-19 insights and 2020 business strategic planning, fill out the form now. 

WGSN: Chinese Consumer Outlook 2020
WGSN: Coronavirus Global Change Accelerators
WARC: WARC Guide to Marketing in a Recession/WARC Talks 360
WARC: Marketing in the COVID-19 crisis
Edge: Future Retail Disruption
Edge: COVID-19 Future Retail Disruption STEIP Update
Yimian: Yitrackers - Category sales data and trends during the COVID-19 outbreak

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