How smart retailers are pivoting to meet the demands of consumers today

‘Hoarding’ may be the term most associated with Covid-19 consumerism, but beyond toilet paper and soap, consumer buying behavior has shifted significantly in recent months – and brands are responding.

Aside from increasing inventory for what are deemed “essential” items today to meet skyrocketing demand, brands are leaning into digital marketing to help and inform, maintain relationships, and build trust.

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Here are a few tactics from agile retailers that have pivoted their marketing efforts – and in some cases, products – in response to the challenging environment brought by this health crisis:

Be a channel for help

We’ve seen time and time again brands shifting their energy to focus on delivering real needs, putting profit on the back-burner for a period of time. This has won them praise for looking at their business and manufacturing models, and seeing how they can help on a larger scale. This often came from unexpected places, like independent brewer Brewdog using production lines to make hand sanitiser instead and Vita Coco supplying free coconut water to frontline NHS workers.

While not all brands are in a position to give back in such a way, there are creative ways they are contributing. For example, several are following the TOMS shoes “buy-one give-one” model, allowing customers to insert the “do-good” into their shopping. Other brands are dedicating a portion of their revenue to help those in need via organisations like food banks and NHS charities.

By involving consumers and giving them a direct channel to give back, brands are still delivering on their promise to customers while giving them a way to use their purchase for the greater good. Additionally, building trust and goodwill always pays off in the long-term.

Focus on affordability

Despite lockdown restrictions gradually easing, many people will continue to escape online to find great deals for the things they want and need. It’s no secret that consumers have become very budget conscious in recent months and the unfortunate reality is, retailers have been hit hard after having to close their brick-and-mortar operations temporarily. In response, retailers have put a lot of energy into bolstering digital marketing and ecommerce, offering big sales, free shipping, and higher-than-usual reward points. For example, footwear retailer, Kurt Geiger donated 55 gifts cards with £100 each to every intensive care unit within the same cities as its shops.

If your business model allows, consider looking at ways you can provide some savings to your customers. Although high street sales have drastically fallen, some creativity online may help you stay afloat.

Educate and inform

When customers make a purchase, likely online, ensure your marketing messages align with the current concerns of safe handling and shipping. There are guidelines being shared about how consumers handle packages once they’ve hit their doorstep, and there remains some mystery as to how the product makes it way from the warehouse to the plane to the van to their door safely. Amazon has received backlash about safety in warehouses and the potential implications of who is handling their orders have consumers worried.

If you take extra precautions to protect your workers and your customers, communicate that.  Provide tips on how to receive and handle deliveries safely and keep customers informed of any possible changes that affect their specific orders or address any larger concerns. Communicating safety tips early and often will help, not only protect your brand, but also your customers. For example, couriers such as Hermes and takeaway restaurants such as Dominos are promoting contact-less options, and sharing steps taken to protect their workers, including delivery personnel, drivers and informing customers along the way.

The current environment isn’t an easy one to try to maintain (or grow) a retail business, but don’t let that stop your efforts to meet and exceed customer needs. Be proactive, be open and transparent, give customers a way to provide feedback, and remember the value of delivering a worry-free experience. The brand equity you build from doing the right thing will far outlast the challenging times we face today.

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