We’ve entered month eight of a global pandemic. The holidays are quickly approaching, and many companies are nearing their biggest selling season. This year is different, though, and brands won’t be able to employ the same marketing strategies as in years past to engage customers. This year requires an approach that is deeply connected, authentic, and thoughtfully responsive to consumer needs during a time when nothing is status quo.
It’s time for companies and brands to invest in love affairs: to create that moment for customers when they can’t get enough, and they’ll defend it no matter what. With this love affair in place, consumers will spend more time with the brand, invest more deeply in the relationship, and be inspired to tell everyone about it.
The love affair is created by listening and genuinely exploring what makes your customers tick. What do they fear? What motivates them? When investing in your love affair, you must know that generally speaking, people can’t tell you what they want.
You have to start showing up in a way that makes you stand out, and that speaks directly to their needs. Tapping into their emotions is the game worth winning.
Companies and brands ask: “How can we create this lasting connection without the ability to deliver physical touchpoints like full-service retail experiences, pop-ups, and events?”
The answer is nimbleness. While many companies will focus on speed (to market), nimbleness is about being able to rework infrastructures and silos that have resisted change in the past, rather than quickly creating something that might work. It suggests adaption to market versus first to market. Nimbleness looks at what exists vs. what needs to exist, and deeply considers data to support its direction.
Creating a love affair doesn’t require the innovation of new technologies or tools. It requires the ability to get curious and to rethink resources that already exist, and to explore how to use the tools you have in new, interesting ways. Ask yourself what can be quickly deployed meaningfully.
In the past, consumers wanted to experience products / brands with touch — but COVID-19 has effectively ended this natural avenue to customer connection. So instead, we look at voice, motion, and facial recognition. We’re not creating new technology; we’re reinventing its deployment in fresh and exciting activations.
For example, one retailer is creating a holiday program that allows multiple people to affect and interact with a window display at the same time, creating connections between the brand and consumer, as well as consumers with each other. A store window uses skeletal tracking cameras to activate when it captures swiping hand movements through the glass. QR-coded interactions will also enable consumers to scan codes and be taken to a website that lets them control aspects of the experience.
Additionally, a “voting aspect” constantly updates the program across all locations, applying input to give consumers what they want in real time. After all, it’s this give and take that makes a love affair so meaningful, and it what’s missing most in brand-to-consumer relationships.