As a design agency, our aim is to deliver authentic solutions to our clients by being thoughtful in our design strategies and thorough in our thinking. With the recent coronavirus pandemic sweeping the nation, we have rigorously researched current and future trends to better inform our design thinking for “The New Normal”. Orange Insight is the first issue in a series of newsletters that strives to ask the question, “Where do we go from here?
What is the long and short-term impact of this pandemic on the retail experience? How will brands connect and engage with their customers in a post-corona world?” Through data collection and an understanding of the global climate, we can begin to plan – not for when things “return to normal” but for this new one.
COVID-19 has created an immediate need for brands to redefine their interactions, and communications, and prepare for the long-term impact on their physical engagements with the public. As the pandemic has created a need for self-isolation, it is no longer an option for brands to consider the health and well-being of their customers and employees, but something that should be a part of their very DNA. As shown in the following Impact Map, this “New Normal” affects the retail experience in three major areas across Digital Connections, Brand Communications, and the Physical Environment. Orange Insight explores these three impact areas and shares our views on how brands may adapt in the retail setting during and post-corona.
Part A – Trending Digitizing the Human Experience
Digital experiences are moving beyond just tools or entertainment; Digital platforms are becoming the new way that people interact, consume, travel, share, and gather together. Immersive virtual experiences provide value for brands by connecting with consumers in shareable and interactive ways – be it meetings, travel, tours, music, or learning – digital technologies are reinventing the in-person experience and taking it online.
Entertainment: Music Labels, E-Commerce, and Major Alcohol Brands Partner to Create Virtual Clubbing during Self-Isolation. Learn more →
Retail: E-Commerce Platforms Offer Online Tours to Popular Tourist Destinations. Increase sales revenue by 40%-70%. Learn more →
Sports: E-Sports – an explosive billion-dollar industry – is filling the gap in the absence of live sporting events. Learn more→
Part B – Social Distancing in the Built Environment
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a heightened sensitivity regarding personal interactions in the built environment. Consumers understand that we are all vulnerable, and will look to brands and the roles they play in the retail setting to keep everyone healthy. Ongoing expectations for our environments will be clean and simple. Our sense of personal space may be different and could have an impact on settings with crowds and tight spaces.
Retail: Albert Heijn supermarket in the Netherlands uses AI to regulate the number of people in the store Learn more →
Retail: LA wine shop Tilda finds human connection in a contactless buying experience. Learn more →
Architecture: Shift Architecture Urbanism creates hyperlocal micro-markets that limit travel and contact to provide fresh food in urban environments. Learn more→
Retail: Walmart, Kroger, Albertsons, and Meijer among grocers add sneeze guards to check-out lanes. Learn more→
Part C – Authenticity = Loyalty
During the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, there will be an expectation for brand authenticity and positive experiences. Consumers will stick with and reward brands that “do the right thing”, including using resources to help communities in need. A brand’s longevity may be affected by what actions they took during this pandemic and the way that companies handle their employees, customers, and communities will leave lasting impressions in consumers’ minds.
Retail: Burberry, Louis Vuitton & Gucci shift production to make face masks for medical workers Learn more →
Health & Wellbeing: Indie beauty brands Goop, Wander Beauty, and Indie Lee shift to mental health content during the COVID-19 crisis Learn more →
Retail: The luxury conglomerate, LVMH, will use its perfume factories to produce hand sanitizer Learn more→
Fashion: US Shoe company Allbirds offers free shoes to medical workers and splits costs with you to donate more Learn more→
Food & Beverage: Miller Lite Virtual Tip Jar raises money for bartenders during the coronavirus pandemic Learn more →
Marketing: Brands redesign their logos to promote social distancing and encourage people to stay home Learn more→
Marketing: New website, Did They Help, aimed at identifying the positive or negative consumer perception of brands in light of the COVID-19 pandemic Learn more→
Design Thinking for the New Normal.
As our reliance on digital communication grows due to continued social distancing, how can brands begin to leverage those digital touchpoints to engage with a new audience? Increased time spent using social media, gaming, in-home apps, and live-streaming platforms is providing opportunities to connect with an audience who is paying attention. Within the physical environment, consumer expectations will change as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and customers will be looking for a reaction from the industry to ensure they are entering a healthy environment. This “New Normal” requires brands to innovate their operations to adapt to customers that want positive experiences and authentic messaging. Did your brand “do the right thing?” Can you alter your products, services, and retail environment to serve the greater good?
COVID-19 Impact on the Retail Experience
The retail customer journey as we know it will have long-lasting implications from the coronavirus pandemic. As seen in the below diagram, the impact extends well beyond the physical environment and affects the way that brands communicate with the public in the digital realm. These digital interactions must become more humanized to compensate for the social distancing occurring in the physical world. Brands have an opportunity to not only create new and lasting connections with customers but also an inherent responsibility to integrate ambient wellness within their physical environments and overall messaging as a response to COVID-19.
How is your brand adapting?
In this new normal, positive customer engagement in and outside of the retail setting is critical. How is your customer journey affected by COVID-19? Let’s connect and discuss your brand’s retail touchpoints to see how you can further engage your customers in a post-corona world.