Consumers and brands have been through a lot in the past few months. As we enter into a new phase of the pandemic cycle, brands must listen, identify the key concerns of their customer and communicate effectively.

Covid-19 has put a spotlight on the e-commerce industry and highlighted its invaluable role in connecting customers with brands.

In 2020, Tech has become essential to society. There has been incredible adoption of internet and apps – as almost everyone, on account of lockdown, has been forced to be online.

This has brought about an acceleration of existing trends, forced experimentation and overall market reset. Consumers have broadened their online shopping behaviours, with e-commerce and online grocery shopping being two of the only industries to see significant hikes in revenue from March to April.

In contrast to the arts and entertainment, hotels, and restaurant industries – UK online grocery sales doubled in April, and UK e-commerce (as % addressable retail) went from 20% to 30% in April. Highlighting a shift in consumer behaviour and switch of investment by individuals to e-commerce (Source: Tech and the New Normal - Benedict Evans).

A rapid adaption of messaging by brands

This new shift in consumer behaviour saw brands having to adapt their offerings and messaging, at pace. In retail, Gucci lent on online personalised video consultations to spur sales and to keep in touch with clients during store closure. Offering a human touch, powered by technology, Gucci used e-commerce to enhance brand relevance but also communicate its focus on “customer value” by considerately bringing personal experience of in-store shopping directly to the homes of the customer.

Gucci showed innovative experimentation and quick market reset to adapt to lockdown. The question now is, as lockdown eases and we move into the new phase of the pandemic cycle, how will the “new norm” influence brand’s overall communications strategy?

What have brands learnt during this period? How will they communicate these lessons learnt? And how will they navigate this altered landscape in the next few months to build a solid future?

Deliveroo for one is driving the relevance of technology and e-commerce as lockdown rules loosen. Launching its new “Table Service” app - which allows customers returning to restaurants to order their meal online while in situ - Deliveroo’s clear message is they want to make social distancing easier when you’re out. They have listened, and can hear people’s initial trepidation to re-enter society. They have also observed the challenges of the hospitality market, and want to help restaurants develop better tools to operate safely and profitably.

Listen, identify and communicate considerately

Today, there is a need for brands to take an “audience first” approach. To identify and listen to the needs of consumers. Brands shouldn’t be tempted to go back to pushing out old ‘brand messaging’ that is irrelevant to their audience’s current anxieties – addressing topics such as health, wellbeing and life as we exit lockdown will be much more relevant.

It will be paramount to keep a finger on the pulse of trending consumer concerns to ensure brands keep up to date and communicate on the topics that matter most.

Our message to brands continues to be to communicate, but don’t act like nothings happened. To put your consumer first. And most importantly, be human.

Want to hear more?

If you would like to learn more about the “audience first” communication approach for brands - Hotwire will be hosting a round table at the beginning of August on the subject of “The Future of E-commerce – With Greater Power Comes Greater Responsibility”.

If you would like to join us please get in touch with me at Jessica.juckes@hotwireglobal.com or Brittany Atkins at brittany.atkins@hotwireglobal.com and we would be thrilled to continue the discussion with you.

Alternatively, if you’d like to find out a little more about some of the other trends we’re seeing in the “new norm” that might affect your comms strategy please check out our latest research.

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