Richard Palmer, European Lead, Strategy, explores four key lessons brands will need to absorb if they are to capitalise on their progress in his latest article for Advertising Week:
It’s no exaggeration to suggest that Covid-19 has brought out the best in retail brands. This was especially evident on the supermarket frontline, where uncomplaining staff provided reassurance and support as anxious customers descended on food aisles last year. But it has also been apparent in other ways, from Dermalogica’s “in this together” live streams offering self-care and financial tips, to Deliveroo providing half a million free meals, to NHS key workers. Free Covid tests, medical supply and food donations, designated shopping times for vulnerable shoppers, and support networks for employees have all been hallmarks of the sector’s dynamic prosocial response.
With the success of the UK’s vaccine programme now promising a social and economic recovery, there’s an obvious temptation among retailers to go back to the way it was before. But the reality is that the empathetic approach that has accelerated during the pandemic should be as much a part of the new normal as booster jabs.
In part, this is because the post-Covid period will continue to present consumers with serious economic and mental health challenges. But it’s also because the nature of consumer/retailer relationships has changed fundamentally as a result of two key factors that accelerated during the pandemic. Firstly, a greater emphasis on social inclusion and embracing diverse voices. Secondly, a much broader usage of digital channels – initially enforced by lockdowns but now habitual consumer behaviour.