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Inspiration for how brands and retailers can reach their customers in the crisis with products, services and experiences that meet current needs

The playbook for business as usual has been completely thrown out as retailers, brands and companies quickly pivot to meet the needs of their customers and employees in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Across the board, organizations are reinventing their strategies and operations to better reach, serve, and engage with consumers. To do so, they’re embracing ideas from the past, as well as adopting new technologies and platforms to remake aspects of their business, including manufacturing, staffing, marketing, go-to-market approaches and delivery for the current landscape. The five strategies below unpack the opportunities for companies to innovate and adapt.

Evolving ‘live’ programming—From sports broadcasting to musical performances, live entertainment is innovating to continue to provide content to its fans, taking to new virtual platforms and getting creative when it comes to developing compelling and interactive shows. TikTok, for instance, hosted a live-streamed series called #HappyAtHome: LIVE, a digital festival that took place over one week with each night featuring thematic programming. The finale was called, “Sound Check Friday,” which hosted performances with renowned and award-winning artists like Troye Sivan, Alicia Keys, DJ Khaled, and many more.

Finding new launch platforms—Though traditional points of sale and means to market may be evaporating, brands from across the spectrum are finding a multitude of creative ways to launch products and engage consumers in their overall brand experience. Luxury e-tailer Net-A-Porter is turning to the world of gaming, where many fashion and other collabs were already cropping up pre-crisis, to get its wares in choice places: Players of the popular game Animal Crossing can dress their avatars in virtual versions of apparel for sale on NAP, with the option to purchase via Alibaba’s Tmall ecommerce platform.

Creative re-sourcing—The job losses associated with an economic shut-down can be staggering, driving many organizations to find new opportunities and partnerships to redeploy staff to different types of work rather than lay them off. Clean beauty retailer Credo, for example, decided not to cut employment when it had to shutter its brick-and-mortar locations, instead shifting associates to run its online live-chat advice service, CredoLive, where customers can text in real-time with a clean beauty expert for answers to all of their cosmetics and skincare questions.

Swiftly pivoting manufacturing—There have been many instances throughout the crisis of brands and retailers shifting their production to manufacture necessary healthcare supplies, like test kits and masks, to support new needs and mitigate shortages, ranging from LVMH’s factory pivot to making hand sanitizer, to Nike’s repurposing of materials for one of its popular sneakers into face shields for frontline staff. A more innovative example is Dyson, perhaps best known for its vacuum cleaners, which helped to create portable ventilators for COVID-19 patients in hospital care. 

Finding inspiration in the past—From drive-in theatres to victory gardens and old-fashioned phone calls, consumers are reverting to past customs or even taking on those of previous generations to make do in a climate of limited product availability, contact and mobility. Retailers and services are taking note, helping get consumers what they need by taking inspiration from yesteryear—including the once-popular daily milkman visit. The Modern Milkman, a local dairy delivery service based in Connecticut, reportedly is leveraging its existing infrastructure to not only support customers but also aid the U.S. government in getting necessities like food and medicine to those who need them most. 

PSFK researchers identified these five strategies as part of a series diving deep into the innovations driving business strategy, consumer experience and community support during this time of crisis—check out the first installment published here.

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