5 retail trends in the time of COVID-19 and how to solve for them

We are seven months into adjusting to our “new normal” with COVID-19, and most agree that consumer buying behaviors will be forever changed.

The global pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we live, think and what and how we buy. The retail industry, in particular, has changed profoundly in 2020, in both positive and negative ways.

Here’s a look at some key industries and categories on the rise, as well as others under pressure in the wake of the pandemic:

Growing Industries/Categories:

  • Gaming
  • Video Conferencing
  • E-commerce
  • Security
  • Collab Software

Declining Industries/Categories:

  • Restaurants
  • Travel & Hospitality
  • Transportation
  • Events
  • On-Premise Service Solutions

Especially during periods of disruption, startups and Fortune 500 companies share a common thread: We all come to work every day focused on managing through what we can control, and — more importantly — what we can’t.

Here are some of the most relevant retail trends forcing change and how to apply a practical mindset to problem solving.

5 Trends

Buying Local consumers are concerned for their health and safety, and as a result, are spending more of their time and money supporting local products and local businesses.

  • Practical Mindset
  1. Forge new paths to connect and engage with customers in locally relevant ways.
  2. Partner with like-minded brands to create a united front
  3. Leverage customer insights to target consumers in your most-important and fruitful markets. Micro influencers are a great tool to do this well, at a low cost and authentically.

Consumers Demand Value as the U.S. enters into a potential recession, consumers are are hyper- focused on their personal finances. They are watching their budgets and seeking value at many levels. Private label products have seen significant growth as consumers shop deals on everyday essentials.

  • Practical Mindset
  1. Being deep and bold with your value proposition when talking to customers
  2. Value is taking a different shape and impacting brand engagement. Value could be in the form of good for planet, good for community or good for the pocketbook.
  3. Watch the competition, making certain you are looking at new SKUs, pricing and promotions to ensure you don’t fall behind in relevancy

Loyalty consumers are fickle, and right now in the market we are seeing feast or famine with some brand loyalty programs booming while others limp along.

  • Practical Mindset
  1. Reinforce meaningful value to your customer vs. trying to generate growth with big campaigns and promotions.
  2. Don’t over promise, remain consistent and spend time understanding your most loyal consumers.
  3. Remain authentic.

Shift to Online and Digital Purchasing

  • Practical Mindset
  1. Maintain a continued focus on building brand awareness. Strong SEO and great content should remain at the top of the priority list.
  2. Use email to keep your fans engaged – and buying.
  3. Focus on customer experience

Self-Serving is commonplace Social distancing has accelerated the development of self-service models. BOPIS (buy-online-pickup-in-store) and BOSS (buy-online-ship-to-store) gained increasing popularity amidst consumers this year.

  • Practical Mindset
  1. There are still challenges with both models’ retailers are working through, it’s a balance for retailers between must-haves: order accurately and on-time and Nice-to-haves: include one-hour pickup, live chat and text messaging.
  2. Keep it simple, being accurate and on-time are still what customers want and will keep them coming back.
  3. These services are driving consumers to purchase in both physical and digital channels, stay close with your retail partners to see where your products are being distributed most frequently (in store, online, pickup etc.) and assess what that tells you about how your customer is engaging with your products, there is a lot to learn here.

We’re truly living in unprecedented times, which not only is causing massive disruptions across retail, but also inside our businesses and personal lives. COVID-19 is a marathon, not a sprint. SO, make sure you’re taking time and encouraging your team to do the same. Burn out is REAL! Check in with your team to make sure they are safe. Ask questions about their personal well-being, the state of the family and the how they are feeling about managing all of it. Be personally vulnerable and share your experiences.

Focus on progress vs. perfection and choose when and how to challenge your team. Now is the time to make sure you have healthy perspective on your business and the consumer market

Whether you’re looking to solve substantial business challenges or simply want an additional set of eyes on your business, we’re here to help. We’ve got the time, the energy and, most importantly, the experience and resources to help support you and your team.

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