COVID-19: Retailers

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COVID-19: Retailers

This research presents case studies of brands that successfully communicate through this pandemic. These brands include Nike, Jeep, ADT, and PEBBLES Cereal. The best practices in communicating during this crisis include offering flexibility, communicating facts, building trust, and increasing the frequency of assessing marketing efforts.

Case Study 1: Nike

  • Nike has been a critical "PSA disseminator". By creatively capturing directives from governments and health organizations, brands can demonstrate their support and pass on the message to their customers.
  • Nike's campaign is a great example of this effort. The brand posted this statement: "If you ever dreamed of playing for millions around the world, now is your chance. Play Inside." This was shared by their major brand ambassadors and was accompanied by a massive donation toward the pandemic: US$15 million. Although the brand has had to close several stores, it has increased its online engagement with its customers by using content marketing.
  • In March, it created the Nike Training Club app. This platform offers tips, training sessions, and workouts at no cost. This targeted the millions of customers that are stuck in their homes. Using its marketing campaign called, "Play for the world," it demonstrates how athletes are working out at home to maintain their top form.
  • Nike is king at leveraging emotional connections. The campaign's ad dubbed "You Can’t Stop Us" uses not only professionals but also some customers who work out in different locations in their homes.
  • This video is Nike's campaign.

Case Study 2: ADT

  • ADT had to cancel a launch for a new product because of the interference of the pandemic. This security company is leveraging user-generated content on social media on how people are adjusting to staying at home.
  • Within a week, ADT was able to produce content that fit the current tone. The company aims at maintaining this into May, when they plan to launch their product.
  • This video titled "Safe at Home" is an example of the videos that ADT is using to communicate with its customers and the public at large.

Case Study 3: PEBBLES Cereal

  • PEBBLES Cereal has launched a video series called "Daily YABBA DABBA DOO." By posting videos on its social media sites (Facebook and Instagram) and its website daily. This video series is aimed at teaching children one new thing each day, for 30 days.
  • Each activity requires minimal supervision and uses items that are mostly readily available in most homes. This brand is partnering with various creative individuals to create these videos by allowing them to share their talents.
  • This initiative supports individuals and families that are creative professionals during this pandemic. By featuring artists and creatives who have been affected, the brand also gives parents a break.
  • The creative fields used in these videos include "artists, dancers, chefs, crafters, magicians," among others.
  • This video was shared as part of the official launch of this video series.

Case Study 4: Jeep

  • Bill Murray stars in a series that was created in support of the #StayAtHome campaign. This campaign was a revival of the Super Bowl adverts.
  • With the support hashtag #StayOffTheRoad, Jeep uploaded this campaign on its Twitter account.
  • By pushing out similar campaigns, Jeep connects with its customers and the tone of the current emotions and situations. Featuring an actor from the movie "Groundhog Day" resonates with how people are feeling and reassures them.
  • This video is from this campaign.

Best Practice 1: Offer Flexibility

  • Companies need to offer flexibility in their communication channels. Besides social media platforms, virtual events are a great alternative. If a company does not already have systems in place, they would need to make the adjustments and set it up.
  • Minor League Basketball's open day was a day-long campaign that was celebrated across the US with the hashtag #MiLBAtHomeOpener. This virtual event was launched by a letter from the CEO that was posted on Twitter.

Best Practice 2: Communicate Facts

  • Brands, in collaboration with the government and WHO, should communicate facts only. Communicating facts ensures that the brand's community is protected and safe.
  • Brands should share tips that would ensure the safety of all. Brands like Mucinex released an extensive ad series that promoted COVID-19 facts.

Best Practice 3: Build Trust

  • Trust is critical in a crisis as it alleviate fear. Ensuring open and honest communication channels manages expectations. Brands can choose to be a place of trust for their customers. For this reason, it is important that brands do not stay silent.
  • Brands such as Chipotle, Delta, DoorDash, and Hertz are constantly communicating with their customers over email. They are sharing information that is useful in ensuring the safety of the company, its employees, and its customers.

Best Practice 4: Frequent Assessment

  • Marketing efforts cannot proceed as usual. In the instance that a product can sell in this period, it is important that brands assess their messaging and determine whether it seems insensitive or opportunistic.
  • Heartbeat is an influencer marketing platform. CPG brands would typically run ads for a month before re-evaluating. Since the crisis, Heartbeat carries out these evaluations daily.

Research Strategy

Our research team provided insights into brands that have adjusted their communication to address the COVID-19 crisis. By focusing on their customers' needs, these brands have earned their place in their hearts and minds. Our best practice analysis has provided examples of brands that have demonstrated each best practice. These efforts ensure that their customers are encouraged as they are stuck at home during this crisis. It offers relief by openly addressing the current situation and advising the community to enhance safety.
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