2020 – The year of the ever changing persona – Part 2

The Year of Constant Change continues

We recently provided an analysis on media consumption habits in the time of COVID looking at how Q1 and Q2 behaviors and consumption differed from previous years and quarters.

In this post, we’ll continue that analysis but turn more predictive as we enter Q3 and are hypothesizing Q4 habits.

While we are early in Q3, we are already witnessing how COVID is impacting consumers based on geography. While most states had entered phases of reopening my the middle of Q2, the period between Memorial Day and 4th of July saw major spikes in new COVID cases across the South and Southwest. This has caused many of those previously re-opened states to re-engage stay-at-home orders in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus and re-flatten the curve.

For consumers – and looking specifically at Sara – the school year is now complete and her office has semi-reopened, but summer camps have been cancelled leaving her and her husband needing to continue balancing work and childcare. While her husband is still able to work from home full time, Sara is going into the office 2-3 days a week.

While her days at home look similar to Q2s, 40% – 60% of her week will change because she is now leaving the house. Her media consumption in Q3 will likely be a varied mix of Q1 and Q2 consumption in varying levels from before.



Late Q3 Sara could look very different than early Q3 Sara. There are many factors that can impact her routine including: how schools will be operating in the new academic year (starting August or September), potential late summer stay-at-home order reinstatements, and possible changes with either her or her husband’s job scheduling. Continuing with what’s been happening in 2020 so far, as soon as someone gets comfortable in their new routine, things could change forcing the need to adapt all over again.

Q4 of any given year brings its own marketing challenges as the holiday season historically causes a heightened competitive retail advertising situation. This year we’re also going to be contending with what looks to be a heavily contested political season, especially in October and early November that can create challenges for advertising opportunities. These are just the known challenges for Q4, but a big unknown variable is COVID.  There is current speculation of another possible wave of COVID spikes that could extend or reactivate stay-at-home orders, impacting consumers and businesses alike.

While it’s nearly impossible for us to predict what exactly Sara’s day-to-day will be in Q4, we can almost guarantee it will be different compared to Q4 2019. A few of those likely differences could be the following:

  • Instead of going to the mall for her holiday shopping, Sara will rely on online shopping options like Amazon, Etsy or Target.com that offer delivery
  • Instead of traveling to Tennessee with her family to visit with her parents for Thanksgiving, Sara will have a celebration at home with her husband and kids
  • Sara will be submitting a mail-in ballot in late October to cast her vote
  • Instead of going to the theater with the family to see the latest holiday movie, they’ll opt for a viewing of the classic White Christmas at home

All these changes in behavior have a trickle-down effect on marketing opportunities. As behaviors change, so must the ways to reach an audience.

With all these changes impact consumers, brands and their agencies must be prepared to adjust. Agility is key and being flexible provides opportunity. At NDP we pride ourselves on our ability to be nimble and adjust efforts as needed to account for the changes our clients’ consumers are now facing.  We have been able to reexamine target personas and behavior patterns to help identify where shifts in strategy have needed to occur.  This has helped contribute to continued advertising success despite the market circumstances.

Every quarter of 2020 has been impacted by environmental changes that we (as a collective we) have never experienced in our lifetimes. The last similar event was the Spanish Flu in 1912, but there are additional issues that are compounding this pandemic. We’re experiencing national civil unrest and are also in an election year. All these factors impact people and their behaviors. It changes how marketers are able to interact with audiences.

The saying “change with the times” is more relevant now than ever. The key to being able to navigate these times as a brand/marketer is to be agile and recognize the need for adaptation to continue your success.  Overall, nothing is status quo and nothing is “normal” compared to a year ago. Because of that, nothing is comfortable right now so getting comfortable in the discomfort is going to be a theme for 2020 marketing efforts. Surrounding yourself, or partnering, with a marketing team that can adjust to the immediate needs of your consumer will influence the success of 2020 marketing plans.