The Impact of a Global Pandemic on Online Business and Marketing

November 26, 2020

Marketing isn’t the only industry impacted by COVID-19. The impact of a global pandemic has forced the whole world to move online. Schools and universities are switching to distance learning. Conferences, festivals, performances, concerts, and even parties are being transferred to the Internet. And fitness clubs are organizing remote training. During the pandemic, almost all offline activities lost their sense. Marketing markets were no exception.

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the marketing market finds itself in an unknown position. On the one hand, against the background of the general crisis, businesses are beginning to cut their advertising costs. So, companies are trying to survive through online activities, in particular, online commerce. All this requires advancement. How is the industry-transforming and how long will the effect of innovation last?

pandemic business marketing: The earth with a sorry we're closed" sign hanging on it.

What will happen to the economy and society after the current crisis

The online advertising market is certainly in a fortunate position. But this does not mean this segment will survive the crisis without consequences. Most customers of digital marketing services work in the offline or “real” sector. They will not be able to continue to function under quarantine conditions. That means it will not make sense for them to bear the costs of promoting and attracting customers.

Forecasts: optimistic and not so much

It is still too early to draw conclusions about how the market situation will develop. There are too many unknowns. But we can already outline several scenarios: optimistic and realistic. There is also a pessimistic one, but we want to believe that it will not come to it.

Looking to the future with optimism

The entire commerce industry will go through a difficult period of decline and stagnation. But by the end of the year, there will be timid growth. In a few months, the business will begin to bounce back. Online advertising will become the most effective promotion tool during the recovery phase. Demand for analytics is also projected to increase. It allows companies to understand which channels and activities are actually working. Serious competition for advertising will begin on sites with a high-quality audience. This will affect its cost. Sites with lower quality indicators run the risk of losing customer trust.

As for the realistic scenario…

Events in this scenario will develop in the same sequence, but the recession will drag on. We are not scientists and doctors that can predict the consequences of the pandemic. But, based on what is happening on the market, we would not expect a noticeable rise earlier than in a year and a half.

The very structure of the digital advertising market will also face major changes.

Here is a forecast of trends that will shape the post-coronavirus world. International research company TrendWatching says that its integral elements will be:

Social media as a source of new customers

We can assume that the role of social networks will increase during the quarantine. This is one of the few segments that can escape the blow of the crisis and even find some new growth points. In self-isolation, people consume any form of content. And an audience that has hardly used social media before is now reachable by online marketers. For the platforms themselves, this will become an incentive to speed up the development of their own advertising tools. They will learn to better segment the audience and please the immediate needs of users.

Education and entertainment as a marketing tool

There is an increased demand for entertainment and educational resources. This is another consequence of people’s free time. The role of content is more important than ever. The winners will be companies able to offer their customers something interesting and relevant. This will not let them forget about the brand, and will also draw attention to the main product.

For example, many sporting goods stores and fitness studios have begun to conduct free online training. This spreads their brand identities and message while indulging the new found time so many people have.

Communication and interaction in e-commerce

The e-commerce market will also change. The trend to visit shopping malls not so much for shopping as for entertainment will continue — online. Especially since the demand for strong impressions has jumped up during quarantine.

For example, the Chinese company Taobao last year developed the ability for farmers to stream to promote their products. Shop streaming can receive a powerful push for development during an epidemic. This phenomenon originated in Asia.

Thus, the presence of showcases in social networks for online stores is now becoming more important than ever. Potential customers expect from all companies, not just streaming services, good quality video on demand.

Other marketing tricks also help to strengthen relations with the audience. AR applications for virtual “fitting” of clothes. Cosmetics and even interior decorations. Reviews and 3D models of goods: everything that makes it easier to choose and buy a product online. On the Lancôme website, you can consult with an expert about the selection of products. But you can also “try on” one or another shade of lipstick or blush.

People will look for interactivity, new experiences, and communication in online shopping. Social isolation and lack of access to offline shopping will increase the popularity of social shopping tools. This is already increasing sales through social networks, where shoppers can interact with each other and share their purchases.


The far-reaching impact of COVID-19 on marketing has affected every industry in almost every country in the world. The economy is slowing down. COVID-19 forced entire industries to stop working, and they are struggling to restore. The amount of free money that people are willing to spend on consumption is declining. Under these conditions, companies must become more flexible. Everyone must change traditional approaches to doing business, marketing, and sales.

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Nick Brown

Nick is a blogger and a marketing expert currently engaged in projects for Media Gurus, an Australian business, and marketing resource. He is an aspiring street artist and does Audio/Video editing as a hobby.

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