Kate Gibson, Managing Partner – Consumer Brands
Amy Searle, Head of Trade
Being adaptable, embracing change and finding new ways to get closer to your shoppers – both physically and virtually – is essential to successful retail comms during a year when we’re getting back on track. Those retail brands that are able to connect with shoppers authentically, seamlessly and are able to differentiate themselves from their competitors will be the ones to succeed.
During a year where online retail has ruled, the increased digitisation of shopping has emphasised everything that tech can’t do: communicating at a human level, creating communities and generating loyalty.
As an example, 57% of UK convenience stores began a home delivery service following increased demand from their shoppers during the first national lockdown, which resulted in the convenience channel averaging +600k deliveries a week. Capitalising on the nation’s desire to shop locally, community-based stores also broadened their offering to tap into trends for baking, gardening and recreating the pub experience at-home.
Many larger operators are also reacting to this trend towards hyper-local, with one in five retailers planning to move stores out of major city centres and into local high streets within the next 12 months [Future Labs, Future of Retail, April 2021]. Hand in hand with this move, hyper-local media will continue to be an essential channel for retail brands to tell stories which are highly targeted and relevant for the local communities they operate in.
And how can brands differentiate themselves? In a highly-competitive, price-sensitive market, grocery retailers are facing the challenge of addressing changing definitions of consumer value. Value (price and quality) is still the number one driver of store choice but consumers increasingly expect retailers to deliver above and beyond, asking questions such as ‘how does it change my life?’ or ‘what is the value to society?’
Successful PR campaigns will be led by this understanding of the changing face of consumer value where brands deliver authentic stories which create moments of understanding with their customers – whether that’s led by consumer insight, cultural trends or providing a genuinely helpful service or initiative.
Working with the media and influencers to deliver outstanding coverage is always one of the hallmarks of success but these stories need to work much harder to generate tangible business outcomes for retailers, for example driving footfall into store, winning at Christmas or shifting brand perceptions.
More than ever, growth and survival will be rooted in rich data and insight to understand shopper behaviours and what they want from different brands, retailers and establishments. In truly understanding their motivations, PRs can uncover new and authentic ways to connect with them, via the right channels, at the right frequency and depth.