Brand Messaging, Ad Spend and Other Practical Considerations from Shaun Brown

From Member Shaun Brown, SVP, Managing Director & NA Shopper Marketing Lead, Momentum

As our economy begins to reemerge and some stores/businesses start to reopen, but with limited capacity – what are some tips for driving demand for less capacity?

Retailers should be taking cues from those who have been open and working through the past several months – retailers like grocery, mass, and drug stores.  Make it easier for shoppers to get what they need safely and easily by utilizing their owned digital platforms for pre-orders, home-delivery, or pick-up.    Partner with third-party delivery; shoppers may be ready to help local stores as long as it can be delivered.  When shoppers come in-store, consider placing highly desired or high-demand items closer to the front to make it easy to get in and out quickly.  Lastly, shopper behavior has shifted to fewer trips to store with more bulk buying, so make sure you provide packaging or bundles that address the shopper’s desire to stock up and get more now allowing fewer trips.

What are the practical considerations that businesses in different sectors (travel, retail, restaurants, entertainment) need to consider as they start to open their doors again, including physical modifications to locations and new policies?

No matter the sector, shoppers will have new expectations of retail to be safe and more efficient.  Unfortunately, this responsibility will likely fall 100% on the retailer to solve which means increased costs of running their business.  The consequence of not doing so will likely negatively impact their business significantly.  Simple things for creating safe environments that shoppers feel safe in requires signage, spacing, limiting numbers of shoppers at one time, employees in PPE, providing sanitizer, and communicating in-store or on social channels steps the store is taking to keep shopper and their employee safe.   

How will brands modify/change their messaging post-COVID? Will it change at all?

We have already seen shifts in messaging just in the past few months.  When this first started, brand messaging shifted to emotional “we’re here for you” and “times are tough” types of messaging that just rang hollow without much substance.  Then messaging shifted to promotional messaging giving new terms of financing to allow purchases now with little or no financial transaction.  Now messaging has shifted to more aligned with realities of the situation we are all in and providing practical everyday solutions ranging from pick-up, delivery, free returns, project and meal ideas, and bulk delivery.  As we move forward, anticipate more solution-based messaging that addresses how everyone is living their lives now – this has turned from a temporary inconvenience to a longer-term reality that has created new behaviors.  Expect brands to identify those occasions and behaviors and act upon it.

How do you think stores/businesses reopening will impact ad spend in Q3+Q4?

It is hard to tell.  There will most likely be a quick bump in spending, but that may reel back with any shifts in daily cases.  We are just now seeing retailers demand masks be worn at retail to curb spread within their stores, and we may see shoppers favor those retailers that create the safe environments.  The industry does anticipate Holiday being larger than normal – a result of reduced spend throughout the year, more ecommerce driven options for shopping and ordering, more local delivery options, and retailers likely providing more attractive than normal price incentives since they will be incented to finish their year as strong as possible.

What do you think a brand that’s paused their spend, needs to consider before restarting?

Choose wisely.  Make sure you’re re-engaging your consumer base with the right message, content, and offer.  While your brand was dark, shoppers shifted to private label and competitors mostly based on availability.  Understand the sentiment shoppers have for your brands.  Are they thrilled to see you and get access to you on the shelf?  Are they frustrated you weren’t engaged and helping them or other?  Have you lost them to other brands?  Now may not be the time for national brand campaigns, but rather precision messaging to each group providing them the right offer, message, or content to earn/reinforce their trust.