Staying Ahead of the Pack


The idiom “ahead of the pack” has been around for decades, if not longer, but its meaning has endured and remained constant over time. The challenge of being better than the competition has also escalated since the pandemic, as brands incessantly seek to outperform the rest of the industry.

70% of consumers said they would be less likely to continue doing business with a brand after the pandemic after a bad experience. That was the finding of a May survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers by messaging platform firm Podium.

Another 53% said they’ve also taken their business elsewhere when a business they had been frequenting failed to deliver pandemic-sensitive services, while 89% delivered a major pronouncement.

They said they would probably return to a merchant they tried for the first time because of its pandemic-friendly service.

Seize the Moment

This old quote also seems appropriate today, because brands that recognize the evolving consumer environment and adapt can not only increase sales, but possibly their market share as well. Here are some tips on implementing that.

Messaging Is Boss

Podium’s survey found that 42% of those queried felt it was more important to text local businesses than before. A pre-pandemic study by Twilio reported that 86% wanted this option. The result is that texting did indeed increase during the pandemic, with more than 60% reporting its use with local merchants.

What makes texting important is its immediacy. 90% of texts are opened within three minutes and only 1% are never opened.

Brands using text messaging must be sure to respect customer privacy and obtain permission beforehand. Messages must be relevant, transactional and tailored as much as possible to the customer.

More on Personalization

More opportunity is available for brands that tailor their messages. A 2019 study by digital platform company Acquia discovered that 68% of respondents didn’t feel they were being treated as individuals.

A 2018 consumer survey by global marketing firm Epsilon reported that 80% said they were more likely to do business with companies offering personalized experiences.

Brands that offer deals that match up with consumer interests and needs will likely see much success. Keeping in touch after the sale and adding personal touches, when possible, will enhance the shopping journey.

Good CRM

Like customers concerned about merchant insensitivity to COVID-19, another 84% told a 2020 Convey survey they were unlikely to return to a brand after a negative experience. Brands that are transparent and can find ways to minimize the steps required to finish a sale will progress. Offering multiple options for customers to connect, pay and fulfill orders also helps.


The pandemic demonstrated that convenience is paramount to consumers stressed about going into the store to shop. Curbside pick-up and delivery soared as a result. Brands have an opportunity to build on these by offering other options like making returns available through text and mobile apps. Affording customers the ability to see products by shipping selections and video are also valued.

Leader of the Pack

Employing all or most of these tactics can result in another pack-related analogy, this being the title of a popular song from the 60s by American pop musical group, the Shangri-Las.

Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5WPR and one of the most well-respected Public Relations professionals in the United States. Ronn is the author of "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations."

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