What can retail brands do during COVID-19?

1 Jun 2020

Retail brands are assessing the best timing for resuming their marketing and communications efforts and activating recovery strategies. With conventional tactics out the window and marketers navigating a new normal, we consider what retail brands in Hong Kong can do now to engage with their audiences and create impact for their businesses.

Brands that were quick to pivot and adapt have already earned brand preference. Brands adapted their business models to help health care services, introduced promotions and benefits to support front line workers, or modified their logos and messaging to deliver positivity to their audiences.

In addition to demonstrating helpfulness and corporate responsibility that helps build positive brand image, brands are also speeding up their digitalisation to create and enhance costumer touch points. Here are some suggestions on what retail marketers can do to enhance their brand image, whilst also boosting sales online.


Give comfort while driving desire

People are missing out on the things they used to enjoy, and probably even took for granted. A great example of connecting with your consumers on an emotional level, whilst also helping provide an at-home activity, is the sharing of recipes. My favourites include IKEA’s recipe for its famous Swedish meatballs (instruction manual included!), and Baileys who shared a series of restaurant-worthy dessert recipes.


Go virtual 

An increasing number of brands are launching their own online stores or making their products available on e-commerce platforms. With digital tools and technologies advancing, brands with online outlets have opportunities for marketing innovation. Hong Kong’s Fashion Farm Foundation is an example, supporting local fashion brands by bringing their clothing to physical locations and providing a line-up of events such as pop-up store experiences, with events and shopping experiences also digitised and available to enjoy by shoppers online.

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Connect through social media

Without physical interactions, social media is more important than ever for maintaining connection with audiences. Keep your brand top of mind by providing content that speaks to their current needs. Be responsive and engage in conversation whenever possible, and improve the page interface with the most updated and useful information easily accessible.


Laughter is the best medicine

Hearing good news helps people get through hard times. Cheerful content on your social media, or a friendly EDM that provides something to giggle about can certainly earn a smile and some brand love. Gifting website ‘Firebox’ saw an opportunity in the wake of global toilet-roll stockpiling, and created ‘chocolate toilet rolls’ as a fun alternative gift to send friends during lockdown; this cheeky tactic garnered light-hearted media coverage and introduced the platform to many new potential customers.


Whilst developing tactics to connect with customers and audiences, brands must remember to avoid coming across as opportunistic. Be kind, be thoughtful and provide your audiences and communities with what they need during this time.

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