The queues outside Primark on 15th June proved two things: 1) absence does make the heart grow fonder and 2) bricks and mortar retail is not through yet. To stimulate growth, retail marketing needs to deliver against two strategic plans: an immediate transition plan and a longer-term plan, from Q4 into 2021.
In the transition period, shoppers taking their first, tentative steps back into non-essential stores will do so with a renewed perspective. After months of lockdown, retail marketing stimulus will have greater stand out because people have not been exposed to it for so long. Messaging needs to capitalise on this heightened awareness, whilst being mindful of prevalent shopper need states.
People will be shopping to gain a sense of normality, but that won’t reduce initial anxiety. Comms need to reassure them that stores are safe to enter and what to expect inside. Browsing and time in store will be greatly reduced so store media needs to highlight the tangible range of items available to take home today (immediacy is one of bricks and mortar’s greatest assets) and navigate them to their point of interest quickly.
Marketing also needs to counter the reduced spending and price sensitivity brought by the recession. Stores should celebrate being open again and welcome customers back, rewarding them with limited time only discounts, vouchers or gifts to build footfall. These should be leveraged around key categories; if cosmetics stations saw high footfall but are now closed, offer free testers to add value beyond price and convert future purchase.
In Q4, having been separated from friends and family for such a large part of 2020, you can guarantee Christmas celebrations are going to be big this year, recession or not, and more emotionally charged than ever. What we’re developing with clients now is their Q4 plan for after the transition period has ended and shoppers are able to behave more normally in store, browsing, gift hunting etc. Promotional investment will be key for brands looking to stand out in multi-brand retailers during this time, regardless of category. Promotional activity will not only help differentiate brands from competitors but also unlock more space in store in the run up to Christmas, which will be particularly key in FMCG, and head into 2021 strong.
The next six months will be tough, but the pandemic has highlighted our resilience and ability to adapt as a nation. This has not only renewed our national pride but also fostered a sense of local community that has spurred us into supporting local business. If we invite the public to get together behind their high street and support business under these conditions, they will do so.