Retail is currently one of the most turbulent industries, navigating the coronavirus landscape with store closures but also unprecedented online demand. The situation varies drastically across verticals and regions, and businesses have had to cope with a daily changing situation by essentially developing new models to serve their customers.
We’ve been looking at the social advertising landscape through the lens of retail, and in the past few days have seen the beginnings of new social advertising strategies emerging in different sub-verticals. In general, we’ve also observed shifts both in how campaigns are executed - and how creative is used. Read on as we’ll break down everything we’ve got so far.
Emerging Trends In Retail Advertising
Lots of brands are finding it difficult to estimate the impact of the situation due to the uncertain environment. However, brands are starting to see social advertising, and different creative ways to engage consumers in social platforms, as tools that can guide them to new business models. A long-term focus on supporting consumers - rapidly tested through campaigns and creative - is helping retailers understand what customers need, what messages work, and how retailers should consider evolving their business models.
Some platforms and formats are rising above others. Some of our retailers have found solid ad performance in Pinterest digital circulars and new ways to work with brands through Facebook collaborative ads. A key focus for retailers right now is to align with Ecom operations so they can meet demand, which may allow increasing spend and still keep CPA at a historically low level. Some retailers are already finding their footing. This development may be reflected in the recent uptick in CPM in both Asia and the US.
Fast-Moving Consumer Goods
Broadly speaking, retail sectors focused on fast-moving consumer goods are adapting campaigns to focus on geo-targeted messages as the situation varies dramatically market to market - even city to city. Some businesses initially paused advertising as organic traffic, and consumer demand placed a strain on their ability to fulfill orders. However, social campaigns telling customers when and where they can get hold of essential goods started to pick up over the past couple of days as the pressure relaxed.
Grocers with a product feed integrated into their social advertising can adapt advertising to real-time changes in their product availability. Equally important has been the ability to quickly adapt messaging and add, for example, instructions on home delivery or changes in store opening times.
Lifestyle brands fall into several camps right now. Many are cutting back on non-profitable advertising channels like outdoor advertising and instead allocating budget to social. Some brands have paused social advertising altogether. Nonetheless, caution should be advised here, as, on the performance advertising side, a retargeting-only strategy without active outreach may saturate audiences, likely leading to lower numbers of incremental conversions. And on brand advertising, cutting back on online ads means a dramatic decline in brand visibility at a time when consumers are indoors and social media usage is surging.
Others are actively reaching out to their customers with ingenious ways to engage and connect with their community - after all, customers haven't disappeared, they are just home. Brands that can find ways to be a part of their customers' daily routine through relevant content are seeing not only brand metrics tick up but also success in conversions for digital content, gift cards, stay-at-home goods, and home improvement for example.
Brands with a clearly defined purpose may have an advantage here, as they will be able to adapt their purpose to the current events clearly - and to what the customer wants.
Remember to Talk to Your Customers - and Listen to What They Have to Say
Brands that don’t appear in homes are effectively invisible right now. Social media use and engagement is at an all-time high. Retail brands need to connect with their customers, support them as best as they can, and find out what their needs are as things progress. Acting with purpose will go a long way to carrying your brand through to the other side of this situation.