Kantar Media hosted a webinar series regarding COVID-19’s impact on the retail market. In the initial webinar, David Morcotte, SVP for Kantar, offered tips for how brands can respond and be upfront during this time.
1. Empathy, branding and engagement have never been more important.
“If you are not out there communicating that brand, you’re going to have some issues,” says Morcotte. “You’re going to be off the consciousness of your consumers.” He offered HyVee, Wegmans and CVS as examples with messages to customers such as we stand ready to help, our brand is our family, and we are in this together. Consider how to integrate the following messages:
- We’re part of your solution.
- We’re working to help you.
- We are part of your neighborhood, part of your community.
2. Effective communication, community orientation and curated solutions are key.
Considering the volume of the media right now, think about a differentiated communication stream. What are you going to do to stand out? Whatever it is, Marcotte says, be concise. He adds, “Make your messaging stand out by including some lighthearted language or posting updates on social media to engage with community rather than just sending an email blast.”
If you have community outreach, this is the time it goes on steroids, he continues. Shoppers are prioritizing ways to help their communities and are looking to their favorite brands and retailers to aid as well. Consumers welcome opportunities to help those severely affected.
3. Assure customers that your business is part of the overall story that is emerging.
December of 1941 was the last time the country closed down, Marcotte reports. Looking back at the messaging of those times, what we can glean is to be clear to customers that your company will:
- Support their lives at difficult times.
- Reposition to support the critical solution.
- Be there for them when the difficult times end.
Be selective, he adds. “Too much is too much at this time of isolation.”
4. Use experience, not data, to plan.
This year is lost for data, Marcotte asserts. The masses of data currently being reported, and even that generated from AI sources—all of it is soft. This is unprecedented, so the information is crowd-sourced, opinion and surveys, but no real hard data exists. “We overwhelmingly have been focused on data-driven life and prediction,” he says. “We need to start thinking our way through.”
This is where scenario planning comes in, he says: “How do you do marketing, production, inventory planning when you have no data? Rely on experience to think through the what-ifs.” To do so:
- Leverage the foundation of your company’s experience.
- Establish multiple planning points to develop as events unfold.
- Have a real inventory of your assets and their flexibility.
- Be creative with your assets of knowledge, experience and client knowledge.