Reimagining Brand Experience in the New Normal

Image used for illustrative purposes only

Pre COVID, the Brand Experience was the most important factor in brand marketing, and brands vied with each other to provide it. The Pandemic and subsequent Lockdowns have disrupted the concept of the experiential, turning it upside down or better said inside out.

Till recently, brands had started to amalgamate concepts to engross shoppers in a brand’s vision. These concepts included pop-up shops, brand influencers, augmented reality, Artificial intelligence and personalisation to provide its consumers with an even more personal and hands-on experience. The experiential was a significant driver of consumer engagement. The pandemic has undeniably interrupted the experiential economy.

Image used for illustrative purposes only

  • Figures from various reports show that around 67% of shoppers have reported trying a brand other than the one they usually purchase due to stock-outs or prices. This has resulted in giving second and third-tier brands that had found no place in the consumers shopping list, a new standing, simply by being on the shelf.
  • Shoppers are cautious albeit with some permanent changes, according to a new global study from Momentum Worldwide. Only 16% say they will immediately go back to the way things were pre-pandemic.
  • Shoppers will take a more omnichannel approach to their grocery shopping. Those with prior experience with online delivery services are more likely than those who just started using it during the pandemic to keep doing so. Poor experiences are their most common to stop these services.
  • Despite more time spent in front of their screens, the vast majority of consumers miss the in-person experience. They miss spending time with friends and family (83%), physically touching products (79%), casually browsing for items (77%) and hunting for a great deal (77%). The stores they miss the most are clothing/shoe shops (75%), grocery stores (74%), home goods (66%) and electronics stores (61%).
  • The era of “bulk buying” is here to stay. Three in four shoppers (76%) prefer to now purchase larger formats of their preferred household brands.
  • Another pandemic shift is pragmatism. Their time is spent more about completing a task to check off a list than actually “shopping.” Compared to pre-pandemic, 43% of people now make a shopping list, 40% research products online, 36% price compare across several e-retailers and another 36% actively look for sales items through coupons or discounts.
  • Being there when needed and prioritizing safety was all that the customer demanded. Simply put – comfort and necessity have been primary motivators for consumers during the pandemic and customers have patronised retailers and brands that gave them that. The vast majority of shoppers (87%) say seeing a company give support during this pandemic has improved their perception of the brand and 82% will now seek out these brands. But 78% say it is hard to remember specific brands because so many have done so and 64% feel brands are flooding them with empty promises.
  • This doesn’t mean customers do not want an experience any longer. Great brand experience has quickly shifted to straight talk and reassurance without the bells and whistles.
  • The Experiential is the new “distanced experience” economy and as retail stores start to reopen, brands must look at how to apply this strategy to their current marketing plans. For the simple joys of shopping and brand discovery are just at a safe distance.

Research for the “COVID-19 Shopper and Retail Pulse Study” was conducted using mPulse, Momentum’s proprietary consumer research panel.  It covered 1,600 respondents in markets including the UK, U.S., Canada, Europe, Middle East & Asia.

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