Editor’s note: Farissa Knox is CEO and founder of RLM Media, a Chicago-based integrated marketing and communications advertising agency. 

The pandemic has forced many businesses and employees to adopt a remote or hybrid working structure. There are numerous articles on the need to adjust the working environment and how these unexpected changes have impacted many different aspects of modern business transactions, operations, sales and even manufacturing.

But remote work also impacts marketing.

Consumer behaviors have shifted. How can marketers remain relevant and influential in this environment? Marketing professionals must adapt their strategies and messaging to become more dynamic and persuasive in this new era, but how?  

Here are three key trends that we do understand:

  • The daily routine of many customers has been dramatically altered, and for some commutes have disappeared, meaning dedicated hours marketers had come to rely on for an attentive audience are also gone.
  • Most remote (and even some hybrid) workers miss the aspect of regular, daily interaction with their peers. This consumer sentiment may introduce opportunities to provide greater interaction with audiences and markets, such as online networking events or interactive social media posts.
  • As companies shift more functions to meet a digital market, their marketing efforts must also concentrate more specifically on a digital approach. It’s worth analyzing your current media strategy and adjusting it in ways that tailor your reach to a market that is more digital than ever before – and will likely stay that way.

Reflecting on customer needs and interests

Embracing these trends is the first step toward effectively reaching customers in the current market. Revisiting your marketing strategy provides a great opportunity to review and evaluate changing customer profiles and preferences, which all look far different than they did in early 2020. Brands should work to adjust communication methods to reflect customers’ current needs and interests. 

While these strategies may seem relatively simple, updating your consumer research – and better understanding your customers’ preferences and priorities – takes effort. Accurate research data is also more important than ever before.

Consumer market research can identify the values, motivation and purchase behavior of targeted customers, which helps businesses and marketers understand consumer psychology and create behavior profiles for each segment of their customer base. Outdated data is not good enough. The return to the workplace is no longer on the horizon for all consumers. Many believe remote and hybrid workplaces will be a fixture of business and work life for the foreseeable future and for many years to come. 

If you’re working to conduct consumer research to better understand how remote and hybrid working environments are changing your customers, consider these three tips: 

  • Assume nothing. We are in an era of constant and frequently surprising change. Take your cues from reliable research data. If your company is developing new products, experiences and messages, begin by gathering data on the current thoughts, needs and feelings of the consumer.
  • Ask more questions. We are living during one of the biggest technology booms in history. In generations past, brands could ask questions, create based on the answers and know that the creation would stay fresh and last for a significant length of time. Now, something new can become stale in a matter of days. Continue conducting research at every decision point. 
  • Tell the story. It’s not enough to just do the research. Research produces data, not answers to questions. It’s only in the data analysis and insight extraction process that our questions begin to have answers and the story of how to use the data truly begins to develop.  

The market has changed, consumers have changed and buying preferences have changed. As a result, brand messaging – and delivery – must also change. To help your brand market in a meaningful way, you must understand how things have changed, and the only way to accomplish that is by engaging in consumer research.