Retailers and brands make a quick pivot in the pandemic
A terrific group of talented executives from a variety of brands and retailers shared their own COVID-19 pandemic experiences at this week’s eTail Digital Summit.
Some reported dramatic upticks in the sales of individual products and categories while others saw revenues virtually evaporate. Here are my favorite examples of brands and retailers used people-first thinking to develop relevant products and content timed perfectly to meet the needs of their customers.
- Hanna Andersson and Polyconcept North America (PCNA) gave out 10,000 stuffed bears as part of a “surprise and delight” promotion to spark joy and encourage recipients to participate in a social distancing Teddy Bear Hunt.
- American Frame, a family-owned vertically integrated pure-play, used raw materials originally intended for frames to make acrylic PPE when demand for frames declined.
- Fun.com saw a big downturn in party-related merchandise but an uptick in other categories — puzzles, games and home and office supplies. Working with their supply chain and manufacturing operations they were able to drive sales by expanding categories, backfilling hot-selling items and branching customers into other categories. They have also seen a resurgence in costume sales, presumably to liven up those pesky Zoom calls.
- On Campus Marketing (OCM) repurposed existing products into “Snacks for Heroes” kits that were donated to first-responders as well as offered online. OCM quickly sourced PPE from U.S. manufacturers and added them, along with new wellness products, to their offerings.
- CVS refused to let Moms go uncelebrated. Under tight timelines they engaged internal designers to create a series of Mother’s Day cards. Over one million free cards were digitally printed using in-store photo facilities or downloaded online. Store managers wrote personal messages to all the CVS Moms who worked on their big day.
- Mattel immediately provided printable content to help customers keep children occupied. Their Fischer Price #ThankYouHeros set was an authentic and welcome new toy that was launched in a matter of days through their partnership with Walmart.
Retail still starts with a good plan, but one that is agile enough to react to current events and sense shoppers’ concerns and needs. Smart brands are focusing on consumers and shoring up their capacity (people, process and tech) to meet demand in a heartbeat.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What is the best way for brands to stay in tune and/or ahead of the pandemic, economy and social unrest lifecycles? What other product pivots have inspired you?