For marketers, the first few months of the Covid-19 pandemic has not been our finest moments. The first few moves that brands made were all the same. Send out re-assuring emails to everyone, widen your logo and thank the healthcare workers. The problem is that if every brand does the same thing, you will end up lost in a sea of sameness. No creativity.
We have witnessed panic-selling with people adding everyone on LinkedIn, with a desperate attempt to drive quick revenue, forgetting your prospect is also in panic mode.
We are seeing lots of good initiatives, with a few small ideas to alleviate consumers’ fears. The new normal includes contact-less pizza delivery, curb-side pickup at retail, online yoga, cook-from-home recipes and kits, distancing lines on retail floors and seniors-only shopping hours. As consumers, we have quickly accepted these ideas.
How risky is your business for social distancing during Covid-19?
In a world of social distancing, people fear crowded places where there is a risk of touching. Grocery stores are limiting how many can go into a store and putting lines on the floor to encourage the six-foot gap. Let’s take this further and explore how brands currently show up concerning crowds and direct contact.
Isolated / no touch brands will thrive
These isolated activities, where there is no touching, will thrive this summer. Brands involved in running, golf, home gyms, and boating are perfect up for social distancing. Peloton stationary bikes announced they are stopping advertising because they can’t keep up with increased demand. Golf courses, where open, are reporting double the activity versus last year.
Home delivery and grocery stores will also do well. Grocery stores may need to find ways to make the consumer experience more enjoyable. Masks and lines on the floor are a good start, but it adds tension to the shopping experience. We see in the graph below how grocery store sales are up significantly for March 2020, while restaurant sales are down proportionately.
Brands that operate in a crowded / no touch quadrant must help isolate consumers
During Covid-19, the brands in this quadrant will have to find creative ways to deal with the crowds to ensure social distancing. From the photos of the crowded beaches in Florida and California, it is obvious we can’t rely on people to self-police themselves in terms of social distancing. Theme parks like Six Flags and Disney better come up with creative solutions to make sure guests feel safe.
The high touch brands must protect consumers
Many of these brands suffer from the proximity of direct face-to-face contact with customers such as hairdressers, massage, and nails. The use of masks and gloves on both workers and customers will be essential. What other creative ways can these brands convey that it is safe for customers?
- Service providers are tested daily (assuming testing will get easier) before each shift.
- The workplace will be cleaned every hour.
- All customers are tested for temperatures, required to wear masks/gloves.
For hotels, they will have to dial up their cleaning rituals and prove to their customers that they are going way beyond expectations. Airbnb will suffer because it will be hard for consumers to the individual landlord is doing everything possible to keep the rental unit clean. Airbnb has announced this week they have let go of 25% of their staff.
Busy / high touch
This quadrant will be the hardest hit by Covid-19, especially bars, restaurants, and transportation, who rely on crowds to drive volume efficiency.
Even as things open up, this segment will need the most creativity to bring back consumers. While governments around the world are giving money to their citizens and companies, they might consider a $100 or $200 gift card that must be used in the restaurant and tourism industry. I will show you a very creative idea below.
Brands need to reduce personal contact and find new ways to isolate customers
As you can see with the arrows above, during Covid-19, brands need to find new creative ways to reduce direct contact and create isolation for customers to feel safe. I also want to see brands still make the consumer experience enjoyable.
Restaurant creates greenhouse type pods to help isolate consumers
A Dutch restaurant has come up with a way to isolate people so they can dine in public while staying safe during Covid-19. Eten Restaurant in Amsterdam has created a dining concept they call “Serres Sépparées” (Separate Greenhouses in English) that allows their guests to enjoy a plant-based meal with a beautiful waterside view of the city. The restaurant now reports they are fully booked up through the end of June. I love this idea because the greenhouse idea is a perfect fit for a vegan restaurant. Other restaurants should try their version of these booths.
Parking lot creates drive-in movie theater to help consumers get a happy moment
As movie theaters have shut down during Covid-19, one multiplex in Schertz, Texas, has converted its parking lot into a temporary drive-in theater. They painted the side of the theater with high-grain white paint that films can be projected on and used AM/FM radios to broadcast the sound inside each vehicle. They provide food options for each car. They’ve created an old-fashioned drive-in. I would love to get to one of these.
Supermarket on wheels borrows from ice cream trucks that circle neighborhoods
Yes, we can get home grocery delivery, or we can line up outside the grocery store and then go in with masks and gloves trying to avoid people, but it feels like a high-stress, high-speed game of Ms. Pacman, as you try to prevent the humans coming near you.
A Toronto entrepreneur is launching “Grocery Neighbour,” which is a fleet of trucks that will each operate like a supermarket on wheels. The idea is to create a grocery store that works like the old ice cream trucks that circle the neighborhoods. The idea helps to reduce the crowd you might find in a grocery store, and allow you to shop for the more difficult items such as produce and fresh meats.
What is your tranformational thinking that will help your customers during Covid-19?
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