It seems like a lot longer than a couple of weeks, but as we digest and start to recover from one of the most seismic events in most of our histories, it’s time to really start looking at what this all means to our industries.
In realistic terms, we have seen some massive short-term changes and trends that we are all no doubt trying to fathom and deal with. The fact that it’s Monday afternoon and at the time of writing, I can hear two of my (assumedly recently furloughed) neighbours busily cutting the grass and painting their shed to occupy their time, delivery slots are the thing of legend, and you’ve more chance of winning the lottery than getting a ‘click-and-collect’ appointment in the next fortnight… all illustrates this point perfectly.
So, what does this mean to the longer-term game for our brands and our industries? Well in the good news column, this current craziness will serve as a marvellous levelling of the playing field, effectively setting us all back to the baseline. But what else can we expect to see and have to contend with?
To cover some of these off, I’m going to play part strategist and part futurist, giving you the key trends and changes that will be impacting the consumer landscape in the short, medium and long term… that is until we have some ‘actual’ empirical learnings that are more than conjecture. So, here goes:
For years we have seen the number of weekly store visits going up and up and up. One alarming first indicator that we have noticed is that people have swung back to the ‘main shop’ mission, though this is obviously being enforced by the current lockdown we find ourselves in, this transformation looks set to keep in place post the apocalypse, or ‘AC’ (After COVID).
We as consumers will potentially realise that actually getting it all done in one place, at one time, is far better, far more efficient, and far more financially savvy than a quick ‘pop in top up’ shop, with an average basket spend of £20-30 a few times a week. Click and collect also fits into this bracket, and will see continued growth as well.
Added to that, brands that can own their own e-commerce offering (as we’ve seen in recent weeks) will also be in with a chance of winning. Yes there will be a reluctance to invest the time in physical retail pursuits, but if your brand can offer your products online, with a slick user experience, competitive pricing, fast delivery, and seamless customer service? Then more and more customers will be willing to purchase from you directly.
Don’t let the opportunity pass you by!
While convenience stores will become less of a go-to option, the High Street experience looks set to go on an upward turn. Shoppers will be looking for specialist retail experiences, from niche suppliers.
We can also expect to see a swing back to supporting your ‘local guy’ at the store. Retailers that can get this right will be at the forefront of a curve that sees people buying into specialist, personalised ways to buy their fruit, veg, cheese, meats and all other consumables.
And what can you do about it? What about creating more concept stores, or experiences in-store to make your retail space more like a media channel? Focus on the needs of the shopper and create immersive, enhanced moments of joy, that clearly deliver your brand purpose.
Consider recruiting in store ambassadors, inviting them to training schemes, and essentially create your own ‘brand army’; these people will be the true advocates of your brand, screaming your message in places that other forms of media simply cannot.
It will come as no surprise that once this lockdown is over, the on-trade is going to see a big, big come back. We are at our most basic, social pack animals that thrive on connection. The stir-crazy nature that we currently find ourselves in means that our human needs have been denied, and we will develop new and impassioned love for social gatherings.
To make the most of this opportunity, it’s time to up your game on outlet experiences. We need to tie our brands to specific moments and emotional touch points, and we need to do this at scale; we need small scale thinking, yet neatly entwined in a large-scale plan.
Dig deep, create amazing experiences, and you’ll truly deliver in the ‘AC’ landscape.
As with all times of hardship, there are immense opportunities, and none have benefited more from our social distancing restrictions than video conference call providers (oh come on, you all saw Zoom’s share price rocket didn’t you…).
So what you ask? Well before our eyes, a new social occasion has been born. We will now be hosting virtual parties with our nearest and dearest, regularly. Now the stigma of video conference calls has officially become obsolete, brands that can participate in this space are set to dominate.
So how can you join the house party (sorry)? Embrace these occasions, find ways that you can add to the theatre, and work with providers to enhance the user experience. Create specialist groups and teams to leverage this new opportunity, and create a delivery mechanism and products that align with this unique, virtual group occasion.
Associate your brand with critical moments, and enhance the moments, think about the biggest pub quiz event you ever dreamed of… and go from there.
Another positive to come from all of this, is that so many companies will have been forced to save vital funds from their travel budgets. And that means there will be lots of thoughts along the lines of ‘actually, do we really need to spend all that time, money, effort and energy, just to get our teams together in one place next year? After all, it worked pretty well when we did it virtually…’
Make no mistake; there is no substitute for the conversations that happen with your teams when they get together, align, and share stories and learnings. Yet, there will be a renewed focus on ensuring that when we do actually get together, the experiences need to be more. More impactful, more inspiring, more interactive, and maybe, just maybe, more virtual.
Could virtual reality therefore soon become, well, reality?
During this unprecedented time we’ve been helping our clients adapt the way they are meeting with, and presenting to their customers. In the process we’ve uncovered some really great ways to deliver engaging messages and build relationships in new and exciting ways. If you’d like to learn how? Then let’s schedule a call. After all, what better time to get prepared for the ‘new normal’?
So, there is no denying that things right now, are crazy, and will be for a good few weeks more… but please take from this that we will get through it, and when we do? Well it’s safe to say that we need to be prepared for the exciting times ahead…
Because if one thing is for sure? Things will never be the same again, but they can, and I truly believe they will, be better.
We’d love know your thoughts, and any trends that you see coming once the world returns to normal. firstname.lastname@example.org
And if there is anything we mention above that you think might help in this difficulty time, then drop us a line.