2022…the year…? Next year brings with it a tentative sense of hope. What does recovery look like, and what changes are going to have a permanent impact on our industry?
The way we shop and interact with brands has changed dramatically over the past two years. Expectations are high, and we are more accountable than ever for our actions, whether that’s ensuring campaigns are reflecting a diverse and inclusive society, our green credentials are as strong and watertight as they should be, or how transparent we are when it comes to those blurred lines around influencer gifting and advertising. One thing is for certain, we must all do better. We are being challenged, and rightly so. Consumers are holding brands to their principles, however big or small.
“The planet is in crisis, and what are you doing about it?”
A spiralling loss of control during lockdown has left many people looking to big-name brands for answers. “The planet is in crisis, and what are you doing about it?” There’s more anger, more pointing the finger. But with that comes the opportunity to engage, passion is good – if people are interested enough to talk, their perceptions can be challenged. With so much misinformation circulating, brands must consider how they want to win loyalty, and what they are really trying to achieve with their marketing ambition.
Hard sales pitches look crass in this new light, people don’t want to be ‘sold to’ they want to know the company they are buying from. Do they look after their staff, are their products ethically and sustainably sourced, what do other people think about? This translates on every level, from ingredients and packaging to delivery times and responses from customer services. It’s not about perfection though, it’s about honesty and transparency. Your packaging might be far from perfect but address it. Own it, and explain why, people do appreciate it, and will rate you higher as a result.
The same is true of the shopper experience. Even pre-pandemic we saw many retailers expand their offerings. Primark introduced beauty services in-store, and it’s not just them, we’re recognising that to increase time in-store, and to make it appealing to ‘go out shopping’ rather than do it from the comfort of your own home it needs to be an experience. Whether it’s a more of a social occasion with friends, or a chance to relax by grabbing a juice and getting your nails done. We need to leap on the opportunity to engage with our audience in person. As we see a new-found balance between life at home, or in our local neighbourhoods to being back in the office, or out and about at the weekend, we must adapt our thinking and strategies.
Everyone will emerge from the pandemic differently. Some with a new-found sense of urgency to get out, to enjoy experiences, to visit new places and try new things. Others will be less keen to leave their bubbles, some will find comfort in the ‘metaverse’ in online identities, trading digital assets such as virtual fashion and highly coveted NFTs; the lines blurring more than ever between reality and virtual worlds. There are so many different opportunities for brands to explore in 2022, interesting spaces to play in and new consumers to engage with. As long as they are armed with the knowledge, they are being honest and sincere about what they are trying to achieve and sell, don’t get caught up in perfection. Now is the time to engage with your audience, don’t get left behind in the post-pandemic fog.