If we had to choose one word to sum up 2020, it would be “adapt.” This word is featured throughout this report, which focuses on current affairs in the world of marketing and communications.

Closures, catastrophic consumer habits, lockdowns… there have been a lot of unprecedented changes this year.

COVID’s varying effects on businesses

The pandemic has negatively impacted many small businesses this year, especially bars, restaurants and clothing retailers.

Several iconic establishments in Montréal and Québec were forced to close their doors this year when they fell on hard times.

The pandemic was the last nail in the coffin for several struggling clothing retailers in 2020. Le Château was one of the causalities. The retail chain had been in business for over 60 years when they announced this October that they would be closing all of their stores.

Other large chains, such as Aldo, filed for creditor protection and announced that they would also be closing a handful of their stores.

However, for some, the lockdowns weren’t all bad. This past year, Netflix and Disney+ saw a surge in subscriptions and technology giants (such as GAFAM) experienced an increase in revenue.

The home renovation and in-home leisure industries also held their own. Ikea even mentioned in a press release that “visits to the Ikea website (French Canadian) and the IKEA app increased by 52% this year.”

Businesses forced to adapt

Since March, the entire world has been forced to adapt. Adapt to life in lockdown, working from home, etc.

Businesses not only had to respond to a change in demand for their products (often a decreased demand) but had to adapt to new sanitary measures that either forced them to partially or entirely close-up shop.

These new restrictions caused many to turn to online shopping, an area that many businesses were lacking in even before COVID, and who are still struggling to catch up.

Some businesses were forced to go entirely virtual by offering online escape rooms, conferences and networking events.

For others, adapting meant focusing all of their efforts on temporarily manufacturing different products, such as Pur Vodka, who started producing hand sanitizer.

Businesses were also forced to keep up with the changing habits of their consumers, who began shying away from in-store shopping and began leaning towards supporting local makers.

We also can’t forget to mention the solidarity and generosity of several businesses that donated face masks and other products to help fight back against the pandemic.

Mixed effects on the media

The pandemic has had mixed effects on the media. The strict lockdown in the spring shuttered everyone inside their homes and kept them glued to their screens.

Free access to several live news networks was likely what led to a higher-than-normal viewership. In a recent study done by Vividata, 38% of Canadian adults reported that they were watching more live TV in comparison to their usual consumption pre-pandemic.

The lockdown and continued uncertainty of the entire matter caused a decrease in ad revenue. By the end of March, several businesses such as Québecor, Cogeco and various local media outlets (already teetering on the edge) experienced major lay-offs.

Ads for the times

Like so many others affected by the pandemic, advertisers also had to adapt their messages to keep consumers interested and remain relevant.

That’s why, for example, Apple put out this long (but very well put together) video detailing the ups and downs of working from home.

We also saw the return of Budweiser’s “Whassup” ads. These ads made a comeback at the Super Bowl and then circled back around in the spring to remind everyone of the importance of connecting with their loved ones during these trying times.

Nike’s beautifully shot “You Can’t Stop Us” ad was also a standout this year.

The Québec government also got in on the action and created ads to thank healthcare workers and raise awareness about the risks of COVID.

Happy Holidays!

Photo credits : Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

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