There has been a lot of gloom around the consumer sector in recent weeks, especially with the new restrictions on hospitality businesses. It is a very difficult period for many businesses but in amongst them there are glimmers of light and inspiration for us all. We’ve been incredibly impressed by some of the changes that our consumer clients have made to succeed and thrive in the current environment and wanted to pass on a few hints on what they are doing.
We’ve seen the big retailers are already adapting to the current situation and consumer trends, with Aldi announcing they are dipping their toe in the home delivery waters. However, it’s not just the big retailers that are doing it. We’ve also seen producers move to direct to consumer platforms, giving them a new income stream, often at a higher profit. Adapting your business to meet what consumers want is critical and that means really understanding the needs of the end consumer and delivering that (even if that means doing home delivery yourself).
How businesses are reaching consumers continues to evolve as well. You only have to look at the fact the government used Instagram influencers to spread their messages about COVID-19 to see what an impact it has. We’ve seen that consumer clients are thinking again about how they spread their message to their customers and fast adapting to the use of social media. That may not involve using influencers, but ensuring you have a good, well protected brand, and have a prominent social media presence is becoming more important. With more and more people doing their shopping in front of a computer, having great exposure on searches and an impactful online presence has become critical to success.
Businesses have also adapted the way they work. We’ve all got use to the phrase ‘covid secure workplace’ but many businesses have used the need for change as an opportunity. They’ve looked at the way they operate as part of their coronavirus adaptations and realised they can be doing things better. Whether that is the timings of shifts, use of IT or internals systems, businesses have used this time to make themselves more efficient and change in ways they may never have considered before.
Consumer clients have also demonstrated that sustainability is still high on their agenda, led by consumer demand for sustainable practices. Lockdown forced consumers to think differently about their buying habits and there was a marked increase in people shopping locally. That has given an opportunity for businesses to adapt their offering in a sustainable way, including local deliveries.
Businesses are also rethinking their supply chains, considering if they can source goods locally. We’ve heard from some businesses who suddenly found their international supply chains weren’t operating as they expected them to and so are looking for sources closer to home. It will help make the business more resilient whilst creating a sustainable selling point to attract new customers.
It will continue to be a difficult economic environment but the consumer sector has demonstrated that with a bit of ingenuity and carefully listening to the customer, there is a way to grow and be successful. By sharing that message, I hope others will be inspired and look at what changes they can make to improve their business.