30 Jun Post-covid crisis: brands are facing new challenges
During the Covid-19 crisis, brands demonstrated unprecedented agility to maintain their activity. As consumer needs have evolved rapidly, innovative solutions were required in record time. Also, beyond a need to innovate, consumers have made clear their desire for brand meaning and transparency.
Make sense of your brand
While it may not change consumer behaviour permanently, the crisis has put a brand’s societal and environmental values front and centre.
-1 in 2 consumers expects brands to be transparent about their production methods- (Happydemics).
Sharing its values with consumers and building a community around a strong and socially conscious brand is no longer a nice-to-have, but a must-to-have. The TedX video “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek is once again making sense: “People don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it “.
One of the major challenges for brands has been to create value in their respective markets by providing innovative solutions to meet rapidly evolving consumer expectations in record time. Here are a few examples:
- AIRBNB: To keep in touch with its community, the house-sharing platform launched virtual experiences via video and web conferences in partnership with Zoom. The aim was to allow guests to choose to talk to hosts or participate in creative collaborative projects, individually or by team as meditation or cooking classes. Within two months, 400 virtual experiences generated $1 million in revenue for hosts.
- NIKE: The sports brand announced free access to the Nike Training Club Premium app, which offers more than 185 sports training programs. The brand has also kept the link with its community by proposing live-streaming fitness classes with well-known athletes to share their daily life during the lockdown. Nike thus reinforces its relevance (its WHY) towards consumers.
- IKEA: The furniture retailer turned to social networks to promote its employees using short videos. This empowered them and humanised their social interactions with their community. IKEA has also promoted the hashtag #ikeaatmine to engage its community and increase its online visibility. The brand has been able to adapt to the new consumer environment and continue to bring added value.
- BlaBlaCar: The French carpooling platform, adapted its offer in response to the Covid crisis by creating a new service. Called BlaBlaHelp, the aim is to develop mutual aid between neighbours. The app quickly attracted tens of thousands of people.
- BIRCHBOX: The beauty brand launched a premium “Splendist” offer with full-sized beauty products, while other boxes offered only smaller sizes. This new product range was designed with customers they were part of the creation process. Birchbox also boosted its community on social networks by proposing daily Instagram Live videos, mainly beauty tutorials.
To create value and improve their services, retailers have also empowered sales assistants to make more decisions. This evolution will surely have an impact in the long term. Brands must empower local decision-makers to increase their agility and respond to customer demand in a post-Covid environment.
Technology to enhance customer experience
Brands’ customer experience, already challenged before the crisis, have been disrupted more than ever during lockdowns. Brands had to reinvent themselves and adapt to the unprecedented situation. The fashion sector, which was particularly hard hit, responded to the crisis by capitalizing on new technologies:
- Augmented reality: Asos replaced photoshoots using augmented-reality technology. The purpose was to simulate a model wearing an outfit, highlighting the product according to size, fit other traits.
- Virtual Reality Fashion Week: Defying convention, Lanvin proposed a virtual reality show at Paris Fashion Week for the Chinese market. The show was also live-streamed on the luxury e-commerce platform Secoo.
- Inventory management: To overcome the $2 billion of cancelled orders during the crisis, Lost Stock offered surprise boxes at half price. Consumers were asked to complete an online survey about their clothing style and received a personalised box of unsold merchandise. The model made it possible to support workers who were not paid in case of cancelled orders.
- Online fitting room booking: Zara upgraded its app to offer new services such as fitting room reservations and the option to virtually try on an item of clothing with the “Zara AR” app.
The crisis has highlighted the need for brands to become more agile (offer, employee role, customer experience) but also to demonstrate transparency to consumers.
Today, brands are expected to ensure a relevant and personalised customer experience in-store and online, in line with the realities of “New Retail”. Also, respecting physical distancing is now a reassuring factor for consumers, a necessity to drive in-store traffic.
Brands’ adaptation to the post-Covid era is about to be tested with the upcoming sales on July 4.
Consultante Retail & Digital