Altavia Polska Sp. z o.o.: Marketing at a (not necessarily social) distance

19-10-2020

2020 is a year of rapid twists; the world is changing before our very own eyes, only we do not yet know what the “new normal” will be like. From the business perspective, there are sectors of the economy whose future, at least for the time being, looks bleak – for example tourism, aviation; there are those that are on the rise – e.g. digital, but there are also some sectors that try to find a semblance of balance in the new circumstances.

The trade sector is one of them. It is clear that the highly dynamic nature of these changes means that some market players lose, and others gain, but it’s undeniable we are living in very interesting times. The pandemic has changed the way we do our shopping. This one is quite obvious: we have been seeing these changes for many months now. Sometimes it is difficult to describe them, some of them appear only temporary, others seem like they came here to stay; nevertheless, many trends can be seen already today – we shop less frequently but we buy more at one time, more often than before we stock up, we shop closer to home, and also more often online. Even more often than before we are looking for “quality at a good price”. We go to restaurants, shopping malls and their food courts less frequently. On the other hand, fast-food restaurants located by the roads, offering drive in/drive through options, seem to be having a golden period. The time to analyse these trends in greater depth will come – in half a year, a year or two, but here and now I would like to take a closer look at some interesting facts from the recent months.

I will start by gently complaining about the pandemic-related creativity of the BTL/POS sector, and then I will focus on the positive side, I promise. Well, I have to admit that I was quite bored in the first months of the pandemic  by the single-message communication offered by the array of businesses producing materials for PoS, which had started and continued through June to spam mailboxes with standard and completely indistinguishable messages. The number of offers sent to “whoever that could be reached” showing the same standard event stands, the same floor stickers, the same plexiglass partitions, curtains, the same masks, was overwhelming. Slight differences in prints that were surprisingly difficult to read at times, accompanied by a huge number of the same, absolutely basic and repeating elements. While the first offers were quite understandable, then later, the thoughtless copying over and over became very tedious.

While I understand it could’ve been the “need of the moment”, one could hardly see any ideas for meaningful marketing messages.

And now, like I promised, let me go to several positive observations. For example, I would like to give a shout-out to the Lidl chain for introducing additional security features into their advertising magazines to improve the comfort of their customers. We have been observing a downward trend when it comes to the production of paper advertising magazines for retail chains. But during the pandemic, their number in retailers went up, and this increase was mainly seen in discount stores.
Magazines make it possible for consumers to easily learn the promotional offers of the store. In the first months of the pandemic, the magazines served as a source of information both about the basic necessities and about a wider range of products that made shopping easier. It was not only a nod towards the customers, but also a way to encourage them to visit the store and to do their shopping in such not really favourable “natural circumstances”.
From June on, we have observed the unfreezing of the trade sector and the relaxation of restrictions. But we all knew that the pandemic was not over. Lidl was the first retail chain to provide consumers with an extra sense of security by protecting the magazine covers with a special LOCK3 layer, which has antibacterial properties. By doing so, the company stressed that it cares about the safety of the customers visiting the stores and goes beyond the standard epidemic-related requirements. It might seem inconspicuous, but in this day and age in the retail communication – it is big.

And let me mention a few examples from the world showing that in this sad period of pandemic it is worth taking care of creativity (and good mood of customers).

The first example is Burger King. While the majority of chains used floor stickers, forcing their customers to look at their feet and take the messages quite seriously, it was nice to see a completely different approach. On the German market, Burger King helped their customers to keep a safe distance in a humorous (but also effective!) way. They even had two such ideas. The first one was “distancing crowns, for self-assembly”. Cardboard crowns, which had the diameter of over one metre when assembled, constituted a “physical barrier” when put on the head, making it possible for the customers to keep the prescribed social distance. At the same time, this idea was fun and positive, which is particularly important when the atmosphere of fear of the virus still has not died down.

The second idea that promoted maintaining the distance between people (used in Italy) was a “Social Distancing Whopper”, that is a burger with a triple serving of onion. A round of applause for Burger King!
On a different note, it was Decathlon in its very subtle “Get Outside” campaign in Canada that showed how to creatively combine image and sales objectives while supporting the society with a positive message. The context: the lockdown period ends, summer begins, and going out, in particular going out to be active, to do sports, becomes very important. And since Decathlon has some products that can be useful in such situations – well! Actually, there is not much that I can add – all you need to do is to take a look at these fantastic, minimalistic creations.

I wish all of you (and myself) the same successful business concepts for the coming months.

Author: Dobrochna Janik, General Manager, Altavia Polska

Altavia Polska (www.altavia.pl) specialises in delivering effective solutions to communicate with the consumer at the point of sale. It provides its clients with a wide range of services: from creation and strategy, through the design of standard and spectacular PoS materials, preparation of materials for printing, to production and logistics to points of sale. The company's clients include Carrefour, Shell, Decathlon, L'Oreal, and others.
Altavia Polska belongs to the global Altavia Group (www.altavia-group.com), with headquarters in Paris. It operates in 43 cities in 30 countries, serving over 300 leading retailers and brands worldwide


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