Changing Habits and Changing Brands
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, many brands and retailers were taken by surprise as “panic-buying” kicked in for consumers. As we know, the pandemic created different shopping behaviors as relationships with brands continue to be tested. McKinsey’s research reported that more than 75% of consumers presented different shopping behavior during the crisis, including trying new brands and places to shop. With new brands and a growing desire among customers to see brand values, creating loyalty is a must for a brand to succeed in today’s new world. Winning brands are employing a number of tactics to gain and retain the customer’s loyalty.
Listen closely. Doing formal research takes time, but we may not always have time. Many consumers talk to others before they talk to you and following consumer sentiment via social channels is a must. There is technology to gather real-time feedback that your frontline employees may be hearing and witnessing firsthand. Analyze the information, determine what is relevant, and then act quickly and appropriately.
Personalize your brand. Strive to understand your customer’s mindset, and then connect in a meaningful way. At the height of the pandemic,, retail brands shared what they did to keep us safe when we entered their locations. Now, retail brands continue to personalize their in-store experience and convey their values in a meaningful way.
Add value. Don’t confuse adding value with discounting. Show that you care and you’re in this to help make life a bit easier during these hectic times. Consumers tend to stay with those brands that have a heart and make life better.
Provide convenience. At the start of the pandemic, parents suddenly had to take on the role of teacher, coach and breadwinner. Finding time to handle some household chores became much harder, so those brands that helped us to “find time” were rewarded with loyalty.
Offer new products to solve for new pain points. With health and hygiene rising to the top of everyone’s priority list, some brands have asked how can I become a solution for some of these new pain points. The producer of Absolut Vodka and Jameson Irish Whiskey used its US distilleries to produce hand sanitizer. And Gap announced that it would use its factory partners to make masks, gowns & scrubs for healthcare workers on the front lines.
Over the last few years, we've seen that things aren’t going back to what we used to know as “normal.” AlixPartners’ research shows that as many as 30% to 45% of consumers said they were willing to stick with a new national brand, and 25% to 30% said the same for new private label brands. A new normal was created, and brands that continue to quickly evolve, fail fast and try again are continuously the winners in the market. Consumers look to brands to supply necessary products along with the intangibles to make life a little less crazy.