Asian American business woman reading a book and taking notes on her touchscreen Acer laptop

2020: The Year That Transformed How We Approach Digital Marketing

There is no way anyone will forget 2020. It is a year that turned everyone’s life upside down. We, along with presumably everyone else, are glad to see this year come to a close. Yet, 2020 gave rise to fascinating changes for the digital marketing and web development space for Lao, Thai, Vietnamese, and other Asian American-owned businesses.

For the first time, the world became ‘contact-less.’ Every form of exchange was bound to a screen. Whether it was groceries or a meeting, we were at a distance from our usual daily tasks. This led consumers to become even more clever and tech-savvy. In turn, businesses had to go digital, fast.

2020’s effects on businesses transformed digital and e-commerce strategies. Let’s take a moment to reflect on exactly what happened this year.

The Rise of Responsible Consumerism

In 2020, there was a surge of social awareness. It began with quarantine and all engagement going digital. Although this was mandatory for a while, limiting contact evolved into social responsibility. Many individuals and businesses chose to keep things virtual, despite loosened restrictions. It should come as no surprise then that the digital world gained more than 321 million new users in 2020 alone. That’s almost the population of the entire United States.

Asian American woman having coffee in a cafe and shopping online on her laptop

This social responsibility particularly revealed itself in consumer behavior. More than ever, consumers recognized the global impact of their spending. 2020 not only brought financial hardship but it also raised the ethical standard of consumers. The year’s events showcased just how many issues our world placed on the backburner. This ranged from environmental to racial issues. With the internet and social media all around us, consumers grew more conscientious of every purchase. Investing in a brand became an open reflection of a person’s values.

Responsible consumerism was important for local businesses. 2020 highlighted exactly how valuable community is for perseverance. The mom-and-pop establishments we loved were abruptly closing. Watching them suffer was terrible. As a result, there was an intense local marketing push. Consumers were responding to calls for help from their local businesses. These businesses, therefore, needed to adapt to customer needs and a contactless reality.

Mainland Skate and Surf saw this firsthand. As a NorCal based brand, they experienced one of the strictest lockdowns in the country. Mainland was forced to close 12 storefronts. To reach and secure the local market, KITS Creativ formulated a strategy to streamline business. With local consumers relying on their phones, we chose to implement strategic email and SMS marketing tools. This provided customers with a more simple and intimate ordering experience, resulting in increased customer retention and confidence in the brand.

The E-Commerce Revolution

If there’s one thing 2020 did, it was close doors. Consumers stayed home. Window shopping turned into social media scrolling or Google searches. This change affected businesses of all kinds and sizes. From retail chains to mom-and-pop stores, all succumbed to the effects COVID-19 had on retail marketing.

Businesses had to think fast. Consumers still had to shop. Computers and mobile devices were the only way to do it. E-commerce marketing gained serious momentum. It took nearly 10 years for e-commerce to grow 10 percent before 2020. It took the first 8 weeks of COVID-19 quarantine to achieve the same growth.

Asian American man wearing a gray peacoat, light yellow khaki pants, and black boots walking while carrying a white tote bag and flowers

An online shop quickly became a necessity for businesses to survive, no matter the industry. Business owners all scrambled to acclimate themselves. Many hardly had a functional website. It’s no wonder that U.S. e-commerce experienced a 40.3 percent growth from 2019. 

KITS Creativ built a variety of e-commerce sites for Asian American-owned businesses this year. We saw how diligent e-commerce strategies kept businesses like dose+remedy afloat.  This Vietnamese American-owned company offers effective immune-boosting products. With the alternative medicine market growing, we saw a major opportunity. We revamped the dose+remedy e-commerce site. This provided users with a smooth and exciting digital shopping experience. We are proud to be part of dose+remedy’s digital evolution in 2020. It would not have happened without a potent UX strategy. 

Why UX Design Matters in E-Commerce

E-commerce strategies have to cater to the user. Every user wants to feel good when they shop. That’s why UX (user experience) matters most for e-commerce websites. How a user feels when approaching a site directly affects their likelihood to convert. If your site isn’t optimized for a friendly and interactive experience, chances are users may not return. You’ve got one chance, and usually, just a few seconds, to make a good first impression. Make sure it counts.

Each industry confronted its own battles with the e-commerce boom and UX design. The service industry is a perfect example. With suspended dine-in service, restaurants faced tight competition to market their menus. They also had to compete with many consumers’ preference to cook at home. More than ever, every order (and review!) counted. An efficient online platform was the answer. Well-designed e-commerce sites helped restaurants stay safe, contactless, and organized. Most importantly, these sites made it simple for customers to order exactly what they wanted.

Alternatively, the pandemic sparked innovation as some food services adapted to consumer preferences and safety protocols. Tuk Tuk Box is one of them. This Southeast Asian and women-owned company launched their exclusively-curated food subscription boxes just this year. Tuk Tuk Box brings unique flavors of Southeast Asia to doorsteps nationwide. To compete, the company needed a reliable website. KITS Creativ created a bold e-commerce site just as friendly as Tuk Tuk Box’s products. Then, we aligned the site with email automation to direct higher traffic to their website.

UX design, like Tuk Tuk Box’s, was made possible with Shopify. This e-commerce platform works for a wide range of businesses. With customizable options, Shopify makes it simple for anyone to set up an online shop.

Social Media is a Direct-to-Consumer Powerhouse

No year saw a social media content boom like 2020. Engagement hit an all-time high. Consumers ditched window shopping for screen shopping. Product and brand discovery on social grew rapidly, thus paving the way for advanced social commerce. Facebook and Instagram rolled out new shopping features that enabled users to buy in just a few clicks. TikTok took the world by storm, drawing in advertisers attracted to its growing user base.

Asian American man scrolling on iPad to find social media app

This year, social media was a powerful tool in driving direct-to-consumer sales for Asian American businesses. More active social media users paved the way for increased brand discovery. Businesses who stayed active on social media saw high traffic to newly established e-commerce sites. More importantly, this traffic increased overall lead conversion. 

KITS Creativ helped businesses like Kung Fu Tea Riverside get creative with their content. Attempting a storefront opening during a pandemic is a major feat. But, we knew Kung Fu Tea could do it. We designed a potent social media campaign for them, which stimulated engagement and increased their brand’s Instagram reach. Thanks to this strategy, their July soft opening was a success. 

What Will 2021 Bring?

2020 turned digital marketing on its head. The year’s intense changes are only breadcrumbs for the future before us. The pandemic is yet to be over. Although restrictions have loosened, consumers formed new habits that are here to stay. The ease of e-commerce has many of us hooked. Many consumers are still hesitant to shop in brick-and-mortar. This is a reality we cannot change.

We have seen an inspiring amount of resiliency from Asian American businesses we’ve worked with. The power of adapting has revealed tremendous growth. Moving into 2021, embracing the power of digital platforms is a must. Consumers are well-habituated to their digital ways and businesses are moving online. To stay relevant, your brand needs a potent digital strategy and online home.

2021 is so close. Let’s get ahead together on making it one of the best years yet.

We know you’re ready to bring your 2021 digital marketing strategy to the next level. Chat with us today.

About the Author

Victoria Cece

Victoria Cece

Aspiring Editor in 'Chef,' Victoria spends her time between her kitchen, Google Drive, and a good pasta scroll hole. She lives for discovering new words and foods, especially the ones she will struggle the most to pronounce. A passionate storyteller, Victoria currently works as a content strategist & copywriter for KITS Creativ.

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