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Cashing in: 3 ways retailers can bounce back in the new normal

Rachel May Quin
Jun 1, 2021 11:23:10 AM

For retail brands across the world the only thing that has been constant is change. With COVID restrictions, national lockdowns, and a consumer nervousness around visiting shops and other public spaces, it’s perhaps not surprising that sales plunged by £1.5 billion due to retail closures in the last year. Though some brands have been able to weather the storm with a shift to online, we saw the fall of retail giants like Topshop, part of Arcadia Group.

As we head into 2021, there’s some hope for retail brands. 82% of global retail sales over the last 12 months took place in physical locations and even better, the Business Research Company has predicted that the global retail market will bounce back, with an average annual growth rate of 10.5%.

In this week’s Contagious sector spotlight, we zoomed in on the three key things retailers need to do to bounce back in the new normal, with inspiring case studies from brands such as Tesco, Nike and GU.

1. Driving footfall by any means necessary

As a retail brand, driving footfall is a crucial element of any marketing activity. But it’s easier said than done, especially in crowded shopping districts when competing for your ideal customer’s attention mostly comes down to location. That’s why we loved The Parisian Redenz-vous, a cheeky guerrilla campaign that got a lot of attention, by Le Drugstore Parisien.

A virtually unknown French retailer couldn’t compete with the million-euro advertising budgets of the major department stores just around the corner. How could they ensure potential customers went off the beaten track? They jumped on the electric scooter trend, ‘borrowing’ all the self-service scooters in the neighbourhood and parking them right outside. The results were phenomenal, generating 850,000 impressions on the first day and increasing foot traffic in-store by 50%... with zero media investment.

Audiense blog - Le Drugstore Parisien | The Parisan Rendez-vous | Wunderman Thompson Paris

Speaking of jumping on trends, white-goods retailer Vestel were able to literally cash in on a cultural trend. In Turkey, it’s a traditional to pin gold and cash on newly-weds on their wedding day, to help them build their new lives together. Vestel realised that newly-weds held a significant account of purchasing power, after all, everybody needs a washing machine, right? Combine this local tradition with the constantly fluctuating price of gold, and Vestel were able to create the perfect solution: Pinnable Home Appliances.

They turned their home appliances into eye-catching gold pins with gift codes on the back, ready for the happy couple to exchange in store. A seemingly simple idea which really paid off for the brand, providing a 68% boost in brand awareness and increasing in-store visits by over 320%. During the year-long campaign, over 300,000 Pinnable Home Appliances were sold! An occasion was up for grabs and Vestel wasted no time in making it theirs.

Audiense blog - Vestel | Pinnable Home Appliances | Karbonat Independent Agency

2. Using digital experiences to bridge the gap

As all brands know, differentiation can be the secret weapon in gaining competitive advantage. This is especially true in the retail space, where many retailers find themselves stocking similar kinds of products, how can they make themselves stand out from the crowd? In Finland, local corner store chain created a chatbot to help them get closer to their customers. Developed with two Helsinki-based agencies, Block Wish was all about giving customers what they want.

Described as a “hyper-local integrated digital initiative”, Block Wish aimed to make the experience of popping into your local corner shop more personal by stocking the products you want. All people had to do was go to Facebook Messenger and tell Alepa their favourite product, et voila, their wish would be granted within 48 hours. The brand reinforced this by notifying local customers with digital screens in-store showcasing the latest products and a special requested shelf for customers to browse. With over 150,000 wishes to date across 90 different neighbourhoods in Helsinki, this is the perfect example of how retail can hold its ground against the convenience and choice offered by ecommerce.

Audiense blog - Alepa | Block Wish | TBWA and SOK

Next up in our hybrid online and offline case studies comes Nike, who featured heavily in the Sport sector spotlight for their endlessly creative ideas. This time, we’ve highlighted their Getting Reluctant Runners Running campaign, aimed at getting young people active through the power of gaming. Not only did this initiative align beautifully with Nike’s mission statement that everybody can be an athlete, but it also blended deep audience understanding with playful campaign execution.

To promote their new Joyride sneakers, Nike teamed up with Tencent Games. They inserted themselves into Monster Hunt, one of the most popular AR-based games in the world with a huge fanbase in China, with Joyride mode. This unlockable mode enabled players to move 20% faster to catch more monsters and increase their ranking… but only if they collected enough blue and red beads. To collect the high-value red beads, fans had to visit one of Nike’s 200 stores across China, where the new Joyride sneakers were conveniently placed. All in all, 45 million fans engaged with the campaign in-game and an astonishing 2.8 million runners went in-store to collect the powerful red beads. A genius way of getting reluctant runners on their feet.

Audiense blog - Nike | Getting Reluctant Runners Running

3. Winning customers’ hearts and minds

After everything we’ve been through in the last year, the brands bouncing back successfully are the ones that pay attention to how their customers are thinking, feeling, and behaving in the new normal. Tesco did an excellent job of this with their 2020 Christmas advertisement, the No Naughty List.

When the most wonderful time of the year rolls around, brands fall all over each other to produce the most tear-jerking campaign. But in a time when many people have experienced anxiety and loss, Tesco made theirs both memorable and absurd. The No Naughty List was geared toward getting people to treat themselves, regardless of sins they may have committed during the pandemic. From hoarding loo roll to giving your sister a bad haircut, everybody got a free pass in 2020 to enjoy the festive season.

Audiense blog - Tesco | No Naughty List | BBH

But if emotional is what you’re after, you can’t get much better than GU’s Care Label. This touching activation from a fast fashion brand tapped into a key time of year for their target audience. In China, the annual Chinese New Year celebration is marked by giving new clothes to your loved ones, as a gesture of love and care. Families get together and exchange gifts, but the moment together never lasts long enough.

So, GU redesigned the label often found inside your clothing to make it the perfect way to show love, care and appreciation. Customers were able to personalise clothing by adding their own message to the care label: drink water, eat a meal, remember that I love you. These heartfelt messages elevated the brand, leading to an 138% increase in sales and a 114% increase in footfall to stores, helping them connect on a much deeper level with their customers during a cut-throat consumption occasion.

Audiense blog - GU | Care Label | Dentsu McGarryBowen

Join us for the next webinar on the 2nd June when we’ll be exploring innovation and creativity in the Financial Services sector. Register now.

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