Post-covid: retail brands are facing new challenges


Post-covid: retail brands are facing new challenges

During the Covid crisis, brands demonstrated unprecedented agility to maintain their activity. As consumer needs have evolved rapidly, innovative solutions were required in record time. In addition, beyond a need to innovate quickly, consumers have confirmed during the crisis their desire for brand sense and transparency.

Make sense of your brand

Despite the fact that post-Covid consumer behaviour is not expected to be significantly different from before, the crisis has nevertheless put societal and environmental values back at the centre of concerns.

-1 in 2 consumers expects brands to be transparent about their production methods- (Happydemics).

Sharing values with its consumers, and building a community around a strong and socially useful brand is no longer a Nice-to-have but a must-have to stand out from the competition in the current context. Find in our previous article some guidelines to activate your community.

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 “.

Create value

In a changing context, where needs are rapidly evolving, one of the major challenges for brands has been to create value in their respective markets by providing solutions to meet new consumer expectations in record time. Here are a few examples:

  • BlaBlaCar: a French online marketplace for carpooling, adapted its offer in response to the crisis by creating a new service, BlaBlaHelp, to develop mutual aid between neighbours. The application convinced several tens of thousands of people rapidly.
  • AIRBNB: As travel is restricted, the platform had to be innovative with its offer. In April, it launched an online experience offer. Within 2 months, 400 virtual experiences generated $1 million in revenue for hosts.
  • NIKE: On March 21, Nike announced free access to the Nike Training Club Premium application, which offers more than 185 sports training programs. The brand has also kept the link with its community by maintaining the e-commerce activity and setting-up live streaming. Nike thus reinforces its relevance (its WHY) towards consumers.
  • IKEA: On April 3, IKEA proposed to its Instagram followers to change the background of their videoconferences with visuals available on its website. 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.
  • BIRCHBOX: The n°1 beauty box brand has launched a premium offer, “Splendist”, composed of standard size beauty products, unlike other boxes which only offer reduced sizes. Birchbox has also been able to boost its community on social networks by proposing daily lives on Instagram, mainly beauty tutorials.

To create value and gain agility quickly, retailers have also transformed the role of sales assistants in stores, empowering them with more responsibilities. This evolution will surely have an impact over the long term. Brands will have to empower local decision-makers to increase their agility and be able to respond to any situation and customer demand as quickly as possible in a post-Covid environment.

Technology to enhance customer experience

The other major challenge, already present before the crisis, is the customer experience, which has been disrupted more than ever during the lockdown. Brands had to reinvent themselves and adapt to an unprecedented situation. The fashion sector, which was particularly affected, was able to respond to the crisis by capitalizing on new technologies:

  • Shows in augmented reality by Asos to replace photoshootings. The purpose was to simulate a model wearing the outfit to the client, while highlighting the product according to size, fit, etc.
  • Virtual Reality Fashion Week by Lanvin. In early February, Lanvin completely turned the codes upside down by proposing a virtual reality show at Paris Fashion Week for the Chinese market. The show was also broadcasted in live streaming on the luxury e-commerce platform Secoo.
  • Inventory management by Lost Stock. To overcome the 2 billion dollars of cancelled orders during the crisis, Lost Stock offers surprise boxes at -50%. Consumers are asked to complete an online survey about their clothing style and then receive a personalised box of unsold merchandise. Thanks to this model, it is possible to support workers who are not paid in case of cancelled orders.
  • On-line fitting room reservation by Zara. Zara has developed its application’s functionalities to offer new services such as fitting room reservation or the possibility to virtually try an item of clothing on your smartphone with the “Zara AR” application.

Finally, the crisis has highlighted the need for brands to become more agile (offer, employee role, customer experience, etc.) but also to maintain their efforts in terms of transparency towards consumers. Today, brands are expected to ensure a relevant and personalised customer experience in-store and online, in line with the codes of “New Retail”. Also, respecting physical distance and physical barriers is now a reassuring factor for consumers, a necessity to drive in-store traffic.

Brands adaptation to the post-Covid era will be tested very quickly with the upcoming sales on July 4th.

Contact :
Elodie Garicoitz
Consultante Retail & Digital