Following on from the first phase of its Covid-19 research called Life on Lockdown, B&A has shifted its focus from consumers to industry and over the coming week it will examine the challenges and, more importantly, the opportunities for key sectors. In the first of the new series, B&A focuses on the Irish retail sector and identifies five big opportunities for retail brands.
It’s all change for retail. B&A’s data shows that 32% have switched their main grocery store since Lockdown began and a massive 69% have switched the time of day when they shop. But where do the opportunities lie for retailers and brands?
Opportunity 1: Reignite the love
Our grocery shopping experiences have become much more functional, efficient and less enjoyable in the post-Covid era.
With speed and safety top of mind it’s all about getting ‘in and out’ as fast as we can:
The current conditions mean that many of the more emotional needs grocery delivered have been de-prioritised: Discovery. Inspiration. Connection with others. Sensorial stimulation. Novelty. Charity.
Opportunity 2: Capitalise in online interest
As the supermarket became a more anxious and less engaging place to be during lockdown, more and more of us are looking into online and remote options.
There are clear opportunities to streamline and improve the online grocery experience to engage more and more shoppers.
If in-store remains a more functional experience in the longer term, it may be online that takes on the mantle of emotionally engaging and inspiring shoppers.
Opportunity 3: Think local
During lockdown we re-connected with our local communities and re-discovered local shopping options.
From specialist food, to pharmacy and now as non-essential retail opens, we’re thinking ‘local’ first.
Among those who switched grocery store, a third did so to stay closer to home.
And even as travel restrictions lift, focusing on local for the foreseeable seems like a win/win situation for shoppers:
- We want to support local business in tough times and keep our local areas thriving.
- Our experience with local providers has opened our eyes to the quality people like (particularly local butchers/bakery).
- We’ve become used to the more personalised and friendly service that local options often deliver.
- Staying local eliminates the need to take risks on public transport.
- With most of us still working from home, shopping local allows us to fit trips in at a time that best suits us.
Opportunity 4: Get into the inner circle
Irish shoppers are now likely to be focused on a smaller number of ‘inner circle’ retail brands.
Those stores that deliver strongly to a range of requirements and needs stand the best chance of keeping top of mind with customers (e.g. Penney’s, BTs, Tesco Extra, Discounters)
Opportunity 5: Master the journey
The Covid-19 crisis radically disrupted our habitual purchasing behaviour. How, when, where, why we shop is all in a state of flux.
69% have switched the time of day when they shop. The focus on weekend and evening shopping is greatly diminished.
Opportunities for all 5 key areas
Ways to win
- Now that we’re past the initial adjustment period, the focus should be on ways to mitigate the most challenging aspects of our new shopping experiences (for example, the queue)
- It’s important to utilise other channels beyond in-store to inspire and engage emotionally with customers
- Website, social media channels even getting ‘back to basics’ with postal channels.
- Developing an online offering will be very important going forward.
- Whether that’s part of the brand offering or outsourced to a third party.
- There are various functional basics to get right (which are all challenging enough in and of themselves).
- There’s also a huge amount the grocery sector in particular can learn from other retail categories (fashion/gifts/homeware) in making the online channel inspiring and engaging rather than merely functional.
- Understanding and focusing on the specific needs of your local community is a good strategy right now. If you don’t know what these are, find out. Consumer research will help.
- Encourage word of mouth, it’s a powerful motivator and seems to be doing a lot to promote local businesses among neighbours at the minute.
- Be clear about what your brand can uniquely offer your customers and communicate this single-mindedly across all channels. It’s never been more important to know exactly who you are and what you deliver.
- Think about how you can expand the range of needs you deliver to, to make your brand even more ‘worth it’ for customers. We’re seeing this happening already with supermarkets moving into ‘ready to go’ food with things like pizza and ready meals.
- A useful exercise may be to map typical customer journeys both pre and post the Covid crisis. At B&A our Shopper Pathway methodologies can help you do that.
- What has changed? What touchpoints or channels are more important? Less important? What needs are under-fulfilled at the minute? How can channels be upweighted or down-weighted to plug those gaps?
- Many businesses would benefit from the skills of designers and architects to help design the layout and flow of the store better for the current times.
Contact Maggie in B&A for the full data presentation firstname.lastname@example.org