The retail sector is going through a turbulent time in the current climate and nobody is sure what is going to happen in the short to mid-term. Top of every brand's list of uncertainties is COVID-19. What restrictions will be in place, where, and for how long? What should brands expect?
While nobody can provide definitive answers right now, one thing that is absolutely certain is that consumer behaviour has permanently changed in the aftermath of this year. Compounding the pre-existing decline in popularity of high street retail shopping is the added risk to consumer health. Through a mixture of current necessity and consumer preference, more people are buying online than ever before. Brands must adapt or risk losing their customers.
Get creative online!
Research has demonstrated that consumers are going online in huge numbers for a bit of engaging escapism to counterbalance the loss, illness, anxiety, frustrations, and restrictions that COVID-19 has brought. Brands that can provide this will have consumer attention.
Millennials and Gen Z respond well to "infotainment" strategies: brands that correctly balance entertainment with sharing (relevant) information through social media will get good traction with these groups. To generate exponential brand awareness and reach, TikTok & Instagram Reels are the platforms to be on right now. A successful method to market with short-form video is to build a featured challenge. Many consumers have a lot of time to fill and are actively looking for ways to fill it: get them engaged in your brand for exceptional awareness and watch your brand sentiment soar!
The Power of Influence
Implementing a robust influencer marketing campaign will be vital to support your social media efforts. Influencers are professional content creators — and they’re really, really good at it. Demonstrating how your products/services work in different contexts and settings across various age groups and cultures opens your brand up to a much wider audience. Now your customer can experience your product in a much more immersive way, through someone they trust and relate to. This is a much stronger visual and emotional storytelling through which the consumer can experience your brand.
Engage Brand Ambassadors
Brand ambassadors are people who love your brand, who want to see your brand succeed, and who actively use your products in real life. They may be experts in your brand’s niche or field, but they don’t have to be, as long as they’re experts on your brand. Their loyalty is also key—brand ambassadors agree to maintain an ongoing relationship with you.
They humanise your brand, boost your online reputation and drive traffic to your website. Most importantly, ambassadors give new customers a reason to trust you. They inform others about your products from their own authoritative perspective, without explicitly saying “try this” or “buy this.” Potential customers rely on these genuine experience with products, and this makes them more likely to purchase. Thus, brand ambassadors are extremely important for driving brand awareness and increasing sales.
As the late, great entrepreneur Steve Jobs once said: “Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity — not a threat.” Brands can either choose to view this pandemic as a lost cause or a challenge: your audience is still there, they’re now online. Reach out to them through influencer marketing!