We are living in a world where everything these days needs to be online because that is exactly what we have become. With one click of a button we want everything to be delivered to our homes right from groceries to clothes to simple things like medicines. The current pandemic is a perfect opportunity for businesses to step into a new horizon – that of going digital. There is a growing demand of being digitally available for your consumers. The consumer consumption pattern has seen a drastic shift due to the pandemic; there are products that have skyrocketing demand such as healthy and immunity boosting foods. Despite everything coming to normal there is still a lot left for the retail and FMCG to achieve in order to come back to the pre-COVID sales.
The previous few months have taught businesses to work in a crisis situation, it has made retailers realise that to reach consumers they need to have a hybrid business model – with both physical and digital presence. The pandemic changed the thinking of brands and also led to them re-shaping their marketing strategies. There was no book that the brands could refer to in order to run their business smoothly because nowhere in those books was there a mention of a pandemic. Brands that had a digital presence performed comparatively well as compared to the others.
Consumers these days want the brand but don’t want to go through the hassle of going to the shop, they want to just have a feel of the brand and if they like it then maybe purchase products from it as well. There are times when an in-store experience invokes purchase whilst the reverse is also true. Therefore, the retailers and the marketers need to inhabit this space between the physical and the digital world in order to meet their consumers there.
The post-COVID period will act as a litmus test for marketers across the globe as they struggle to bring back their audience. In this sense, the adoption of both a digital as well as a physical presence allows brands to create an efficient consumer experience, cloud kitchens being a prime example.
The post-COVID scenario will be way different as the consumer will look for a more immersive experience, a personalised one. Data will be key. For example, if a consumer is looking at buying healthier food options, retailers will need to gather insights into the consumers via digital surveys, provide them with healthy diet charts, resulting in brand recall and repeat purchases. So, retailers will need to come out from traditional one-dimensional zones and go omnichannel in their strategy.
The interactive experience in which the consumer could touch and see a product in a physical store and even discuss specifications with salespersons has been put on pause with COVID, and consumers have started flocking to e-commerce sites. Even the most reluctant ones are at least window shopping on these platforms, so retailers need to allocate their budgets to content and digital experiences.
In order to deliver a phygital experience to consumers, retailers can use technologies like AI, VR, chat-bots, social media pages like Instagram and Facebook and even webinars.
The Way Forward
Talking about the way forward, for FMCG brands it is extremely important to create a very strong digital impression for brands. This could be done through various means such as attractive packaging or short videos on the benefits of products. Ready-to-eat brands or cereal brands could work on curating video recipes for consumers to help serve them better or even ask the consumers to share their recipe for particular brands or products.
To find the perfect product among hundreds of brands is a difficult task, so brands need to adopt strategies that would help differentiate them from others. With many consumers still working from home, a lot of time is spent on social media platforms thus allowing them to take part in different online challenges as well. This is the perfect time for brands to think of creative ways to grab consumer eyeballs. This is the perfect time to reduce costs yet gain maximum benefits of living in the artificial world.
Lastly, once the dust is settled and the ‘new normal’ actually goes back to the ‘old normal’ many consumers would go back to being their old selves but there still might be a section of the society which would be happy shopping online and would want a satisfactory digital shopping experience. In the long run, this would be the turning point for digitization across multiple ecosystems.