1. Corporates can change
With the lockdown costing Britain around £2.4billion per day there will be very little business as usual in the aftermath. Clever corporates will already be running digital focus groups to determine the insights, opportunities and offerings that will define their new normal.
The best way for brands to show that we are all in it together is to show some empathy with their customers and their supplier networks. The brands who once stood for aspiration, exclusivity and cool are now defining empathy, humility and humanity as consumers place trust alongside key factors like quality, value and surprisingly comfort.
Renewed clarity and focus will be driving big decisions with redundancies and wholesale change expected, creating potential staff anxieties if new visions of the future are not curated and communicated carefully. Internal communications will need investment and innovation to explain fully any changes in roles and responsibilities whilst reinforcing the elements that remain unchanged such as your mission and core values.
Digital connectivity will become more commonplace and expect to see more emotionally intelligent AI used to deliver a more responsive and ‘human’ brand offering across all platforms.
2. We’re loving local
People will be looking to travel less and shop more locally, supporting artisans, small business owners and experiencing more one of a kind products.This movement is rooted in the emotional need for people to communicate and share their wealth with people who are part of their notional tribe, and possibly as a means of lessening our dependency on mass produced goods from overseas.
Honesty and transparency are no longer seen by brands as being idealistic and unattainable values but moreover they are crucial touch points needed by customers to fully invest. In the food industry this trend adds a higher value with consumers because it is linked to quality, wellness and supporting the independents as well as the very real sense of comfort and trust that comes from knowing ingredient sources.
3. Places can perform
If necessity is the mother of invention then it’s the father of placemaking as the rules for how we use our town centres are rapidly rewritten. In Europe we’re seeing pop-up bike lanes, car-free zones in city centres to give more room to pedestrians and cyclists, and properties even being valued based on the width of their pavements. We’re also seeing the daily norms rewritten with school and work hours staggered and shops encouraged to stay open later to avoid the traditional rush hours and pinch points in our city centres and beyond.
Against this backdrop, the mission of landlords will be to provide strong leadership in the responsible and safe use of their area whilst also creating and sustaining thriving communities. This will be no mean feat, but expect more digital and data driven promotional strategies inviting locals to enjoy more public art, private events and carefully curated wellness experiences in our public and commercial spaces.
There will also be a trend towards more digital concierge services and more innovative delivery concepts with one brewery in New York even using a pair of golden retrievers to bring their customers beer.
4. Retail needs rethinking
Retail locations were already transforming into experiential destinations, engaging people differently through digital installations and internet showrooms but with footfall and spending power down, the game is now about going fully digital or making more out of less.
Self-isolation, reduced income and climate concern means many customers will want to buy less after lockdown, but they will still value quality. Destination retail will be focused on delivering a more personalised customer experience by integrating more digital everywhere and educational spaces into the physical spaces that remain. A clearer sense of community purpose and more value driven messages will become the norm as brands look to secure their tribe for the longer haul.
5. Luxury can mean less
The luxury mindset will now include a sense of heightened awareness of what is really important to us now such as health, nature and friends. The customer will be more discerning and make more responsible decisions than before, with brands needing to be more transparent about their ingredients, their origins and what makes them special.
Digital will increasingly be the gateway to discovery but people will certainly seek to reward themselves for their sacrifices in isolation – even if it’s with a singular purchase at a higher price point. They will value the experience far more once lockdown lifts and sensory elements like design and touch will rank
far higher than before. The privacy and personal touch afforded by these brands will also be warmly welcomed.
The meaning of luxury will also change for the mainstream, with smaller daily rituals like using CBD bath bombs reflecting a more personal and affordable treat that people can enjoy in their own homes.
6. Less waste more wellness
As supply chains break down and humanity goes to war on waste amid the presence of Covid 19, there is a new surge in efforts to make every sector of society more sustainable, and for brands to find new ways to help us all be more bio-positive and bio- adaptive.
The power of collectivism and collective action will be replacing the cult of the individual and the movement towards shared responsibility looks like the one that will dominate all others.
In the beauty and wellness sector, brands are using their power as positive drivers of change with high end refillable bottles reflecting the lifestyle changes of those who want both sustainability and image, spending more early on but making their savings and easing their conscience for the longer term.