Brands and retailers across the globe are dealing with a new reality in which consumers can’t or simply don’t want to leave their homes and avoid crowded places and events.
With consumers stuck at home, we are already seeing early signs of changes in consumer behavior and shopping patterns. Purchases are shifting online, and the trend is likely to continue post the lockdown.
It will take ages before consumers start enjoying shopping in crowded malls again (if it ever happens). Will trying a new cosmetic product with 10 strangers around be a pleasurable experience again? Or tasting a snack in a supermarket with 1000 people roaming around? Not anytime soon!
So what happens when brands can’t meet their consumers in person?
From Physical to Online
eCommerce is having a field day. Amazon announced that it plans to hire 100,000 new full and part-time employees in the U.S. to meet the increased demand. Online shopping is not only the most convenient but also the safest. The shift online is likely to continue post the crisis. Even the most skeptical online shoppers had the opportunity to see how easy and convenient it is. Brands need to start thinking about adopting their marketing mix to suit new customer shopping patterns.
With everyone shopping from home more often and avoiding crowded supermarkets or shopping malls, it will be very difficult to rely on in-store sampling to build consumer awareness.
It is not certain yet when stores will be allowed to restart their in-store activations and product demonstrations over health and safety concerns. Changes like these are forcing brands to look for new ways to reach their target consumers and build brand awareness.
Adapting to the “New Normal”
In its recent report, consulting firm Bain & Company advises brand managers to create touchpoints to reflect the rapid shifts in consumer behavior:
“Focus your efforts on online and digital media, as opposed to out of home and physical media. Curtail in-person and on-trade activations and events, shifting to avenues that may be less traditional but are spiking in importance due to changing consumer behavior.”
Luckily for brands, there are more options to engage consumers online than ever before. Even product sampling, one of the most traditional consumer activation methods, can now be executed online.
Activations like direct-to-consumer product sampling are becoming the new norm for brands. Rather than handing out product samples to random consumers in-store, brands are able to precisely target consumers online and deliver the product sample directly to their homes, allowing them to experience the product from the comfort of their own home. Digital product sampling also ensures that brands have consumer contact details, can build further engagement through follow-up communication, can ask for feedback or encourage purchases through the distribution of discount codes.
The post-pandemic new normal is likely to be very different from what we knew before. Consumers will avoid crowded places for months (if not years) to come, physical shopping will remain a stressful experience and more and more people will shop online.
Brands need to be creative and think of new ways to connect and deliver the brand experience, without the opportunity to meet the consumers in-store.
At Wisent, we help brands raise awareness, build consumer lists, get feedback and drive purchase through well-executed digital sampling campaigns. Please get in touch with us to find out more.