How to Evolve In-Store Marketing Amid a Pandemic
Statista recently published a statistic that drives home the impact COVID-19 has had on virtually every facet of our lives. Since the pandemic, only 3 percent of Americans say they have not made any changes to their lifestyle.
For retailers, their journey to reopen will also include changes; changes that will elevate awareness and encourage dialogue around customer and employee health.
Retailers know in-store marketing will be a key driver in this. The hard part? Determining how to evolve your signage to not only meet present day expectations, but keep pace with future regulatory guidelines. To do this effectively, consider the following practices essential to keeping your doors open.
If Safety and Health is a Priority, Prove it
A Numerator survey late last month found “84 percent of shoppers said they consider increased sanitation procedures at retailers to be important or extremely important in selecting where they shop.”
The current climate requires a hyperfocus on doing everything necessary to appear and operate as a risk-free destination. From behind the scenes to out in the aisles, how will you prove that it is?
A risk-free customer experience, first and foremost, starts with the health and safety of your employees, who will depend on back-of-house signage to improve their adherence to new safety measures and CDC guidelines. This signage must be visible, up-to-date, and easy to digest. For peace of mind, consumers will also expect retailers to be transparent on what exactly they're doing to create and maintain a safe environment.
Go Local Using Fact-Based Data
From state to state and city to city, the pandemic has hit every nook and cranny of this country differently. For retailers with store footprints in a variety of markets, it’s critical those differences are acknowledged at a corporate level, but also reflected at the community level.
This is where variable composition and store profiling comes in to provide retailers a better sense of what a community needs from a communication standpoint. Retailers should rely on active listening, engagement, and sentiment to better understand specific needs and local consumer attitude.
By coupling widely available, fact-based information around COVID-19 with sentiment and key store characteristics — e.g., store size and layout, fixtures available, customer demographics, local laws and regulations — retailers can create localized, highly relevant messaging at the community level.
Let the Seasons Inspire Your Signage
In a survey by Unruly, consumers were asked the best way for brands to advertise during the pandemic. As it relates to in-store marketing, retailers can glean a few things from the top four responses. Ultimately, consumers want brands to:
- share information on how they're supporting their staff and customers during this time;
- include information about COVID-19;
- provide a sense of continuity and normalcy; and
- be funny/positive in an effort to distract from what’s going on.
As summer approaches, retailers should manifest everything positive we associate with that season through the in-store experience. Think vibrant color palettes, sun-soaked images of friends and family together, and messaging that reassures us “normal” isn’t far away.
The Role of a Lifetime
Humans are intuitive. It didn’t take long for them to see large dots on the ground and connect it to social distancing measures. With heightened sensitivities around in-store communications, consumers are ready for retailers to step up in a new, more conscientious way.
Right now (and in the foreseeable future) in-store signage has this incredible opportunity to play a front-and-center role in what we might consider calling retail’s grand reopening. Performed well, this role will reduce risk, drive connection, and uplift in ways you may never have expected it to.
Toni Thompson is president of retail solutions at RR Donnelley, a leading global provider of multichannel solutions for marketing and business communications.
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