By Melissa Stone

We’ve all been glued to the news: America is shutting down due to the coronavirus pandemic and national emergency. Most businesses are turning their lights off so we can “flatten the curve” and practice “social distancing.” Schools and universities are shifting from on-campus to online courses, the SAT’s are being postponed, the NBA is suspending its season, and practically no one is traveling.

What are the implications for companies? Aside from panic, re-forecasting their revenue targets, and predicting a recession, brands have an opportunity to further connect with anxious consumers and focus on the true relevance of their products or services. While not all companies will have a seamless health synergy like Purell or Clorox, now is the time to re-consider the messaging strategy.

Is this the best week to increase media spend to drive awareness of luxury goods? Probably not since most people will be hibernating at home. But there are opportunities for other industries.

Beauty: Skincare might be the most relevant these days since we’re aggressively washing our hands. Beauty brands, like Kiehl’s and First Aid Beauty can start to push messaging around tips to hydrate your skin from top to toe. Nail brands, like essie might focus on DIY at-home manicures and remind users to post their favorite looks on social media.

Travel: While no one is casually booking a flight, cruise or hotel for Spring Break, perhaps travel companies like TripAdvisor could leverage their partnerships to drive light, relevant online video content for consumers to watch at home. (ie, TripAdvisor and National Geographic could showcase their top destinations, and ask users to submit their favorite past experiences online).

Books & Toys: For those with children staying home from school, this is a huge opportunity to showcase indoor activities to keep your little ones entertained while you work remotely or get your house in order. Some of my favorites are from Melissa & Doug.

Athleisure: With warmer weather coming, perhaps brands will start to suggest it’s time for a seasonal upgrade to lighter fabric, or provide apparel and footwear recommendations to go for a quick jog outside. Maybe they’ll start bundling product recommendations together at lower price points, since some consumers might be losing money in the stock market.

Food & Beverage: While we might be tempted to mindlessly snack all day at home, it’s important for brands to remind us to keep healthy and not push high-salt, sugar and transfat food or energy drinks. We still need to drink lots of water and get our daily intake of fruits and veggies (frozen or not). Perhaps brands could remind consumers about their food delivery options and provide special offers (ie, Uber Eats could waive the delivery fee and suggest high tips for the drivers).

Above all, stay safe. While it’s important to be indoors and germ-free, a healthy balance is needed. Play with your kids in the backyard, go for a walk, or just stand outside for some Vitamin D. 

Hopefully, we’ll all come together as a community and start urging our friends to give blood to those in need through the American Red Cross, or donate food through Sheryl Sandberg’s food bank fund. Maybe we’ll hear of someone starting a fund to help the government get more coronavirus tests out there so we can identify, treat, and quarantine the right folks, so the non-infected can get back to business as usual.

More practically for the short-term, let’s ask ourselves: “What can my family and I do to help others?” You can help by either eating the food yourself, or finding someone who needs it. You can help by watching someone’s kid if they need to cover for someone at work. You can help by ordering takeout from your local restaurant. Every little bit counts. As this Grown & Flown article states, this can be your finest hour.


  • Melissa Stone

    With 15 years of experience in digital marketing, Melissa has generated significant results at global brands, including Nike and L’Oréal. In 2019, she founded the boutique agency, Eastend Marketing, where she works with various companies and organizations, including Wellesley College and UN Women.