The month of April brought with it a ‘new normal’. The spread of COVID-19 continued to grow across the world, forcing customers to stay home to slow the spread of the disease. But a new move inside forced customers to act and behave differently.
Our office became our dining tables. Our weekly social hangout spots became video chat. Shopping became increasingly digital and entertainment was brought virtually to the comfort of our own homes, allowing us to stay busy as we continued to isolate.
As customers adapted to a new life indoors, brands were busy innovating and being agile, rapidly adapting their offerings to meet these new customer behaviours that were quickly accelerating.
In our Hotlist this month, we look at how brands have been agile to meet new customer behaviours.
1. Connecting on new channels
A new reality to the fashion experience
With borders closed and businesses shut, fashion week for brands seemed to end abruptly. But as customers transitioned onto digital spaces, so did the fashion world.
Shanghai Fashion Week, in response to COVID-19, digitised its entire fashion week show. The digital show was available to all that had access to Tmall, the online marketplace where the event was held.
Through partnering with Tmall, customers could seamlessly transition between shows, interact with presenters and see what clothes were available to buy in real time.
Live streaming will no longer be a one way relationship, but a gateway into a wider participatory experience. Brands will connect with customers in real time, connecting channels to enable a streamlined process, from announcement of new products to purchase.
Image courtesy of Fashion United
2. Digitising Services
Bringing staff and customers closer than ever before
Glossier has been a great example of how a digital-first brand can move to physical spaces. But when these spaces were forced to close, the brand had to rethink how it can bring its new physical presence back online to its community.
The brand takes immense pride in creating “people-powered ecosystems”, and saw an opportunity to take its “offline editors” online through their digital face-time experience ‘Glossier Live Edit’.
The new service enabled customers to connect virtually with Glossier team members to receive advice and guidance before buying products online.
Execution for how brands digitise their offering is key. Glossier’s approach felt natural as it fits their philosophy perfectly – empowering beauty through its people. Brands will need to merge their physical and digital offering moving forward meaningfully to meet new digital behaviours that align with their ethos.
Image courtesy of Glossier
3. Supporting Communities
Facilitating community betterment online
As the virus spread around the world and panic buying subsided, customers began to focus less on themselves and how they can support those most at-risk.
Supermarkets across the world have been leading the charge to protect communities, offering dedicated store times, prepared boxes and prioritised delivery.
Co-op has taken an extra step, making it even easier to support those who need it most. The UK supermarket launched the online hub ‘Co-operate’ making it easy for customers throughout the UK to find and give support to others.
Brands will act as leaders as we move out of the pandemic, focusing on how they can help and support the local communities they operate in and drive betterment for all, authentically and purposefully.
Image courtesy of Co-op
4. Virtual Gaming Events
Fusing brand experiences with gaming to create amplified events
As customers adapt to a life indoors, they’ve had to find new ways to connect with their networks, as well as being entertained. Gaming has become the solution, providing a new way for them to get their entertainment fix.
With physical experiences closed to maintain social distancing, brands have learnt to embrace gaming platforms, fusing their experiences through unique gaming partnerships to offer amplified entertainment events to existing and new communities.
American musician Travis Scott collaborated with one of the most popular video games, Fortnite to stage “Astronomical”, a virtual in-game concert. The 15 minute set was viewed by more than 27 million people globally.
Brands will utilise the endless possibilities of gaming to form overt partnerships and collaborations with like-minded brands, celebrities and musicians to drive revenue, attract new global audiences, and keep fans connected and engaged for longer in immersive, innovative experiences.
Image courtesy of Rolling Stone
5. At-home Betterment
Making it easier to access culture and upskill
With a lack of travel, Airbnb has looked to bring betterment to its global community. The brand has offered ‘Online Experiences’ so customers who are isolating can connect with global communities to experience cultures from the comfort of their own homes.
Beyond learning about new cultures, these experiences extend to allowing customers to upskill and develop themselves further in isolation.
Experiences offered range from making the perfect cup of coffee from an expert, to learning how to tango from an Argentinian instructor.
Brands will look at how they can offer betterment beyond the physical and mental and help their customers upskill in the activities that matter most, allowing them to continuously enhance and better themselves.
Image courtesy of Airbnb
6. New Shape of Retail
Evolving the entire retail experience to meet new digital demands
As COVID-19 spread, customers were driven to digital channels to shop safely, whilst ensuring they could get what they needed in isolation.
Kroger quickly adapted to this, offering contactless delivery to customers to ensure safety was paramount. The brand added contactless delivery to online orders, and curbside pick-up to click-and-collect. As digital demand grew, they quickly adapted again, transitioning one of its stores into a pick-up only site.
The brand has continued to innovate by understanding the new digital behaviours of customers. The brand added digital receipts to orders and recently launched Kroger Pay, allowing contactless in-store purchases that link directly to customers loyalty accounts.
Brands will accelerate their digital capabilities, transforming their physical spaces to seamlessly blend digital and physical channels together. As stores reopen, brands will further look at ways they can offer a safer, contactless shopping experience both physically and digitally.
Image courtesy of VentureBeat
Title image courtesy of Unsplash
Download a PDF version of our Hotlist here.
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