As retailers determine the best and safest way to operate during COVID-19, this time of enforced cultural inactivity has created a fantastic advertising opportunity for retailers of all kinds.
As people were asked or forced to stay in their homes, much of their attention went directly to their phones, televisions and other devices. Although consumers cannot shop in physical stores as before, there is no shortage of need for consumer retail; with people glued to their screens all day, retail advertisers have a unique opportunity to catch consumers of all ages’ focused attention while at home.
In recent years, we have seen live television audiences decline, but that trend has completely reversed during the pandemic. In March, U.S. evening news broadcasts boasted an average of 32.2 million viewers, a gargantuan increase from 2019’s ratings.
These unprecedented numbers make television advertising potentially invaluable to retail brands. Retail media has been steadily growing in years past, but with constant eyeballs on TV screens and consumers being able to make quick purchases online, an extra advertising push can lead to increased profits.
Ads integrated with the right technology can make retail advertising even more of a surefire way to drive profits. Some of this technology allows consumers to use their smartphones to instantly follow up on advertisements they see, and make a purchase, book a test drive or respond to any call to action without even turning their heads.
Cutting through the advertising noise can be difficult, so many online retail ads have intelligently framed their products through the lens of the pandemic. They quickly illustrate to viewers how their products are not only safe to use during this time but often also show how they can make life at home more productive, more comfortable or even just slightly more tolerable, helping consumers make the leap from seeing an ad to purchasing.
During the pandemic, while people have been stuck indoors, this is especially true for brands that specialize in products that better life at home such as clothing, exercise equipment, pharmaceuticals and many other self-care products and services.
Another key tactic advertisers are implementing during the pandemic is specifically targeting older consumers, some of whom are shopping online for the first time, highlighting the safety of buying online along with its ease-of-use. Between these two tactics, brands are making a clear effort to humanize themselves and their products, while trying to make their messages more engaging.
Retail shopping and advertising were already trending toward online-focused business models but the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly accelerated their progress. Consumers of all demographics have already been actively doing much of their retail shopping electronically but as we return to the “new normal,” it may permanently become the primary shopping method for even those who historically preferred brick-and-mortar experiences due to prolonged exposure to the ease of online shopping.
Consumer bases being confined to their homes might appear to be a poor situation for retail brands at a glance, but with proper advertising campaigns, technology and messaging, it can easily be seen as a massive opportunity.
Roland Storti is founder and CEO of Minfo.