Talking to Mintel analyst and influencer, Alexis deSalva, it is clear that Covid-19 is driving a whole bunch of new behaviours that were emerging before the lockdown, but which are now certain to accelerate from now on.
Before the virus hit, we all wanted more immersive and intimate experiences with our favourite products and brands but the risk of infection has made us all nervous about touching any goods or going near other people, whatever the law dictates. It will take a while before we stop thinking about how close we are to someone else; meanwhile, retail will have to put more distance between us in the form of socially distanced queues, protective masks and gloves, and quarantining of products.
Are you sure you want to buy 2nd hand?
Anyone in the business of selling anything that has used before – rental or second hand – will have to consider whether items for sale will be in demand any more, unless there are rigorous and onerous processes put in place to guarantee cleanliness and protective packaging.
Which is ironic given that before the lockdown, everyone had become obsessed with trying to reduce packaging and introduce more recyclable materials. Ironic too that packaging has exploded because so much more is being delivered on line.
So, what is the answer for brands that want more access to consumers that they are having to, if not turn away, seriously restrict. deSalva heralds the appointment economy where consumers don’t just show up, but declare their interest simply by browsing on line and then possibly booking an appointment to pick up their goods. And if access to stores is restricted, then orders can be delivered straight into the boot of the car at the kerbside. Or possibly at other locations where there is space to distance. In truth, we can’t know whether these various experiments will last beyond the crisis but consumers may well get used to the convenience of new delivery options.
Either way, as deSalva warned, the whole retail and brand team will have to get together to work it out; siloed cultures and process, and departmental thinking are not going to work anymore.