COVID-19: Which brands are getting the tone right?

The World is Imploding. Which brands are getting the tone right?

Firstly, sorry that I haven’t written in so long. It’s been a bit of a crazy time. I’m hoping you’ll forgive me.

The response from retail to COVID-19 has been a mixed bag. Certainly, after this is over, brands will be judged by how kindly they responded. From the outcry over Mike Ashley’s approach with Sports Direct, to the support for our grocery store workers, people care. It’s clear that things will never be the same again. Customer focus, agility and cash will be key- there’s no blueprint for this. It’s really tough out there right now.

I wanted to highlight a couple of great examples of messaging from retail this week, as they quickly pivot away from the normal content we’d be expecting this time of year! It’s also making me smile on days when I feel a bit sad.

  1. Motel Rocks

Motel Rocks made me chuckle this morning as I was researching- the new hero imagery with the tongue in cheek ‘ “working” from home’, the ‘stay home, still look cute’ discount messaging, and the focus on bringing forward loungewear products.

The brand has got their tone right on social media, too, using their Instagram to play fun games, offer ‘cheer up’ giveaways, spread ‘positive vibes’ and show off isolation outfits. They’re doing a good job of building a community spirit.

We’ve seen a similar promotion of loungewear and home gym kit at Asos and Topshop, but while I think the consumer tone is right, there has been a split between the retailers still fulfilling orders and those not. The retailers need to make money, but questions arise over the safety of their fulfilment and distribution employees.

2. Clarins

Clarins are emerging as a great brand during this. They’ve already distributed 14,500 bottles of hand sanitiser to the French authorities, following LVMH’s lead. Their website encourages self care, creating a community around the sentiment, and they’ve focused on their products being able to create an at home spa experience.

They’ve also been clear and concise with communication with a dedicated page on their website, and extended their returns window.

3. River Island

After making the incredibly tough decision to close it’s distribution centre, River Island put this message up on it’s website. The retailer has shifted it’s Instagram messaging to encouraging people to #clapforcarers, educating people on the pandemic, and driving campaigns encouraging people to stay at home.

Hopefully, the brands focus on doing the right thing and focusing on community will play dividends when things return closer to normal.

4. Iceland

As far as the supermarkets are concerned, Iceland led the way. The first to offer specific times for the elderly, reduce opening hours, and serve content about #feedthenation with food bank donations and responsible shopping.

The food giant has always been a good ‘un, offering extra discount to NHS workers, police and armed forces for a good while, trialling plastic free Christmas products, and removing palm oil. This morning, Iceland boss urged healthy people to go in store, to free up online delivery slots for the elderly and vulnerable.

And the bad?

I’m not covering in detail the ones I think haven’t done so well, but needless to say when researching this piece I saw a lot. Heavy discounting, no mention of delays in delivery times, lots of promotion of ‘buy now, pay later’ services (which left a bad taste in my mouth) and poor treatment of employees.

I’ve also seen some real mixtures…offering to make masks one minute, while forcing contact centre staff in to work and threatening mass exodus from the high street…here’s looking at you, H&M.

When all this is over, we’ll be judged on our kindness. It’s hard out there, let’s all do our bit.

Oh, and #stayhome.



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