Whilst there is no direct synergy in government management of the virus across different countries, the introduction of new COVID measures has been widespread across the UK and Europe. The rules have changed again. In the UK, gatherings are limited to six people. In France, this number is 10. Bars are closing early across the continent. So how does this change the meaning of retail and brand strategy in a constantly changing climate?
At the start of September, we published our research report: The New Role of Retail. We explored how companies, both big and small, have adapted their business models and services in order to survive the initial period of lockdown and broaden their digital reach in order to engage with consumers. One key insight within this report was that it is retail’s time to pivot. This still holds to be true. Whilst the rules and guidelines are changing, and sizes of gatherings being limited, we have explored why now is the time for a brand strategy to consider how retail is no longer just a distribution channel. In a climate whereby stores have less traffic or just one or two people allowed in to a store at any one time, there is an opportunity for brands to reimagine customer service and offer a truly personalised and memorable experience.
For us, the meaning of retail has always relied on practising empathy. With reduced store traffic, the one to one conversations between a sales advisor and consumer have never been so important. At the same time, our report has explored the need for retail to embrace a local mindset. Lockdown saw greater investment into people’s local communities. A company should develop a brand strategy that encompasses all of these things, whilst also acknowledging the power of a thoughtfully designed environment and how this impacts consumer emotion. Our environments play a huge role in our wellbeing, both mentally and emotionally. We have often explored the importance of design in relation to our environment on our blog. As consumers seek to navigate the uncertain future, we must ask ourselves how we can create retail environments that provide an antidote to this negative emotion. How do we inspire hope, optimism, joy and safety?
In many ways, the meaning of retail has been amplified. We have had an opportunity to embrace leanings from digital whilst also honing in the very essence of what makes retail unique – harnessing the power of a direct connection with your brand community.
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