As several theories circulate on how our economies will fare post-lockdown, it appears the most pressing question is whether consumer demand will live up to brands’ eagerness to supply in an effort to recuperate losses. While manufacturing may see a ‘V’ or ‘W’ shaped bounce (where recovery might be as quick as the slump), there are expectations that tourist and service dependant economies may be facing an ‘L’ shaped growth (where the rebound may take the majority of the year to slowly recover).
Analysts will be keeping an eye on various intel and insight over the next few weeks to further refine forecasts, but brands will need to start designing, planning and producing their emergence retail strategies now for when lock-down comes to an end.
Moe Krimat, Strategic Creative Director of Seen Displays explored how consumer behavioural insight can help retail brands be best prepared in their response to the shifting consumer landscape;
The Resurgent Consumer
While we can expect a slower return to usual demand for certain products on the high street, there’s an emergence of ‘recession-proof’ categories like kids wear that will continue to be sought after. As we start seeing consumers abandon non-essential goods over the next 6 months, brands will need to develop more emotional purpose to overcome some of the challenges retail will be facing over the next year. Here are a few take-aways to consider:
- Strategies need to consider working from home will remain a regular habit for a majority of the workforce after lock down and therefore prioritise products that provide ‘keyboard-up’ styling like upper-wear, accessories, beauty and home wear.
- Cost control and efficiency will be paramount post Covid, but certain brands also can’t afford to compromise on the quality of their executions and will need to explore campaigns and retail activations that deliver a high quality and engaging aesthetic while remaining cost effective or agile to pivot at short notice.
- With the expected nose dive in travel retail sales, It’s never been more important to meet China’s growing middle class of brand-conscious shoppers in their local cities. Partnering with design agencies with access to production partners in the Far East will alleviate pressure to seamlessly bring local design work to life.
- As we come out of lockdown there’s an expectation of pent-up demand for high-end luxury goods and an opportunity for more frivolous and exuberant shopping sprees, hyper-personalised services and experiences will be key to build long lasting relationships with your VICs
The Cautious Consumer
While it’s impossible to ignore that consumers coming out of lockdown will retain a fear over infection, it’s important to also remember consumer demand could once again decline due to anxiety over job loss and shrinking savings as people cut back on discretionary spending. Brands should focus their messaging and strategy in a compassionate and human-centric direction to reassure their brand behaviours are well aligned with their consumers in the following ways:
- While retaining an air of optimism, it will be important to support their audience’s mental wellbeing and physical health by implementing social distancing and hygiene policies in a more creative and sympathetic manner which fits seamlessly in their retail environments.
- Although attitudes to sustainability might have taken a back seat to consumers’ priority for health care and provisions, there is still a strong awareness of the decrease in pollution due to reduction in travel and manufacturing. Brands and retailers should continue to innovate sustainable solutions in their retail environments and provide more green spaces indoors while taking part in initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint.
- From a financial wellbeing perspective consider retail strategies that support and educate customers on budgeting and saving while offering products that are durable, ethically sound at a fair price point and represent a more sustainable approach to shopping.
- While brands work on these strategies to respond to the constantly shifting consumer demand over the next few weeks it will be imperative to prepare engagement strategies for another potential decline in demand for offline retail experiences in the eventuality of a second lock down.
The Restricted Consumer
Brands who are rooted in the service industry or within retail units that are heavily reliant on the tourist consumer may face a much slower recovery in demand due to hygiene concerns and travel restrictions. It will be imperative to build on current quarantine born strategies to continue supporting and servicing your customers in empathic, creative and innovative ways.
- Create messaging that focuses on values that connect around family, community and the environment, and less on materialistic indicators which are inaccessible.
- Campaigns can look to virtual merchandising to make product and storytelling available at their digital fingertips using existing augmented reality features.
- Explore ways to re-connect your brand following digitally and repackage your services for customers to use at the safety and sanctuary of their homes or to use at future dates.
While time will only tell how consumers will react to offline retail opportunities, what is clear is our need to be prepared for all scenarios.