7 Reasons Marketers Should Be Optimistic as Post-Pandemic Recovery Begins

How to benefit from pent-up demand while also accommodating more cautious consumers

All signs indicate the country’s economic engine is roaring back to life. Summer’s almost here. The CDC guidance suggests we can drop our masks a bit more. More than half of the country has been vaccinated. And infection rates are down and dropping. Brighter days really are ahead—and not just because it’s June.

Yet, the optimism is hardly unbridled. Concerns over future price increases and the need to recover from the damage—financial and otherwise—of 2020 have kept most consumers firmly in the “cautiously optimistic” mindset. In our new report, “The 2021 Valassis Consumer Optimism Outlook,” we have documented how consumers might articulate these feelings.  

While excitement may be a bit more nuanced for some of the shopping public, the current confluence of events and opportunities should make marketers among the most optimistic demographic.

Not convinced? Here are seven reasons that marketers should be optimistic right now:

1. People love all of the buying options

In 2020, many U.S. consumers had their first experiences with ecommerce—such as home delivery, buy-online-pick-up-in-store and curbside delivery—and found it was pretty great. Now that consumers have embraced the convenient options retailers and brands provided, they expect to continue to use them.  

However, it’s hardly the death knell of the retail store. Even in the spring of 2021, when people were reticent to go out very much, shopping was the least impacted activity, according to our report. In fact, our research found that nearly half of shoppers are comfortable shopping inside stores, a number that’s clearly going to grow. The net result may well be an overall increase in all types of commerce, which should put a smile on marketers’ faces.

2. Consumers are hunting for deals

Nearly half of consumers we surveyed told us that their household income was negatively impacted last year. That made tight budgets and practical purchases very much a reality. But consumers still wanted to improve their lives through self- and family-care. But alongside of this, nearly three-fourths of consumers increased saving behaviors, while over 80% plan to continue those behaviors after all of this is over. For marketers, that means offering deals, coupons and other promotions will be even more important (and effective) than ever.

3. Local businesses really matter

Consumers are thinking local: When it comes to advertising, 70% of consumers are interested in supporting local businesses generally and 65% are interested in supporting local restaurants specifically, according to our research. That presents a real opportunity to meet this demand to show neighborhood retailers and restaurants some love.

4. Restaurants are back on the menu

While most consumers are still a little nervous about going out to eat, Valassis survey data found that nearly half of restaurant goers are fully comfortable dining outdoors. With warm weather here, restaurants can create welcoming and comfortable environments for people to enjoy an outdoor experience. And as the situation continues to evolve through the summer and fall, more folks are bound to be excited to stay on premise to eat and drink.

5. People have fallen in love with their homes

Lockdowns and stay-home-orders presented many challenges over the year. On the bright side, our new research found that 63% of consumers are content staying at home more. This opens windows of opportunity for reaching consumers in relevant ways: Direct mail puts your message directly in their hands and connected TV ensures that you stay top-of-mind as they stream more.

6. TV advertising is better and smarter

With people at home more, they did a whole lot more streaming.  For example, Valassis recently did a survey that showed CTV to be gaining in importance, relevance and influence with consumers. In fact, nearly 70% of 35- to 44-year-olds considered the ads they’re served on streaming TV services to be much more relevant to them than what they see on traditional cable. But most telling of all is that over a third of consumers admitted to making a purchase based on seeing a CTV ad.

7. People love getting their mail

Our love for our homes has also made the mailbox an even more prominent way to connect with consumers. Valassis research shows that a third of consumers really looked forward to seeing what was in the mailbox every day, and over two-thirds are using the offers they get to decide what to buy. That’s to say nothing of direct mail’s natural power to hold attention longer, elicit a stronger emotional response and produce greater desire than its digital cousins. The bottom line is that marketers have a tried-and-true tactic that is getting even more engagement than ever.

Matthew Tilley is senior director of content marketing for Valassis, a Vericast Business, and leads content marketing for the company. He has more than 20 years of experience in digital advertising and consumer promotions to develop, communicate, and distribute ideas to make modern marketers more effective.