How search trends helped Mitsubishi drive its marketing into a new direction during the pandemic

Justyna Bundyra, Lukasz Wojcik, Bartlomiej Majas / December 2020

With many countries in EMEA in a ‘Lockdown 2.0’, the travel industry is once again facing a difficult time. What has changed since the wave of first restrictions, however, is that people have become quicker to adapt to new regulations. And while good marketers stay in the know on behavioural changes, great marketers adapt alongside their consumers, shaping their messaging to the current context and mindset.

When international travel restrictions first came into place, people around the world shifted their focus to nearby escapes. During those early months, 87% of Poles intended to vacation locally, and global searches for “local trips” spiked. And since nearby destinations are often reached by road, with personal vehicles offering a safe means of getting from A to B, it meant that more people were looking to buy a car.

After seeing a decline in showroom traffic as a direct result of new local restrictions, Mitsubishi and their online marketing agency Bluerank set up a marketing campaign using this new insight. They focused on emotional storytelling by using a narrative to connect with audiences looking for a taste of the great outdoors, closer to home, once lockdowns lifted.

Start with consumer insights to understand emerging needs

While the pandemic restricted international travel, people were eager to get out of the confines of their homes ⁠— and resorted to finding adventures in their own backyards. Searches for “camping” (“kemping”), “vacation” (“wakacje”), and “recreational vehicle” (“camper”) increased steadily in Poland from April to August.

Searches for “Camper” and “Kemping” in Poland

Searches for “Camper” and “Kemping” in Poland

“The idea of pivoting our campaigns online to connect with the consumers while the showrooms were shut down, was first born in April when a nationwide lockdown was announced, closing businesses and borders,” says Lukasz Wojcik, Marketing & PR Director at Mitsubishi Motors Poland.

Between July and August the teams rolled out a summer holiday campaign called ‘Holidays with Mitsubishi’, to connect with those consumers looking for a local escape post-lockdown. Within the campaign, Mitsubishi and Bluerank promoted three different models simultaneously — Space Star, Eclipse Cross, and Outlander PHEV ⁠— each showcasing different accessories, set against different scenic backdrops.

“Because of the international travel restrictions, for many of us the car became a holiday home; an inseparable companion for adventures and leisure,” explains Wojcik. That’s why the car manufacturer focused on content that appealed to fans of the great outdoors, with videos featuring kite surfers, tents on the roofs of cars, and families exploring the coast in their vehicle.

Engage consumers at the right time, with the right message

For Mitsubishi, timing the ads with the summer holiday months was a great way to get Poles excited about local travel possibilities when the restrictions had been eased. The teams altered their strategy by shifting budget to Global Display Network (GDN) and YouTube to reach new users.

“We run prospecting GDN campaigns using custom targeting which proved to be very efficient. We also used advanced audience segmentation. It was a special scoring based on the user's behavior on the website and its position on the customer journey path," said Bartlomiej Majas, Paid Search Specialist at Bluerank

By dedicating their budget to new channels and revamping their creatives, Mitsubishi was able to keep customers engaged and get people back in the showroom when limitations on non-essential stores were lifted.

The results were hard to miss. In July, test drives increased 64% and website visits grew by 34% compared to the same time in 2019. Mitsubishi also saw a 37% increase in car deliveries to customers, as ‘home deliveries’ had become a more established part of the consumer shopping journey during the pandemic. “Time when others cut budgets is ideal to increase your visibility,” concludes Majas.

Key takeaways for marketers to meet changing customer needs

  • Use tools like Google Trends and Rising Retail Categories can help brands understand changing consumer behaviours better and quicker.
  • People respond to brands that truly understand their needs at any point in time. That’s why it’s important to optimise campaigns for relevance to the consumer in the right place, such as online because of the acceleration of digital adoption, and at the right time.
  • Emotional storytelling helps brands connect with audiences in a powerful way. Understand what matters to people today — and create meaningful messages that match to drive successful campaigns.
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