James Langan, managing director of Natures Menu, shares his thoughts on how marketing strategies have been impacted by the Covid-19 situation and tips on how brands and retailers should move forwards.
Effective use of online channels and strong communication
There has been a clear shift to online marketing during the pandemic, as both brands and retailers look at how they’re able to adapt to the changing needs of consumers, but also how they can survive.
A digital strategy can be an important tool for both online and store-based retailers, as it gives businesses a way in which they can effectively engage with shoppers and build loyalty with their community. They can also use this to encourage footfall to stores.
Retailers can use online communication to update existing and potential customers on offers, new products, product availability and opening hours. The key here however is that communication needs to be frequent and consistent, not only to stay front of mind with the consumer, but also to build brand loyalty – customers want to feel like a priority, not an afterthought.
Draw on the benefits and USPs offered by local retailers
Most local pet stores have a unique offering and place within the community, and it’s important that they draw on this. Store retailers provide consumers with greater access to expert nutritional advice, they stock product ranges not available in supermarkets – raw being a prime example of this – and other specialist products for a variety of dietary requirements.
Certain retailers also have the benefit of added-value services, such as groomers or vets. They need to ensure that consumers are aware of these, and how having access to all of these services under one roof can benefit them – only having to make a single trip as opposed to visiting multiple outlets.
The supplier is just as key as the retailer
As a supplier, we’re also responsible for supporting retailers on this journey. Brands need to ensure that they are highlighting the product ranges and services available to consumers at their local retailers, and encourage those people to either consider it as part of their purchasing journey, or switch back to this method if using it prior to the COVID-19 crisis.
The future of marketing strategies in the pet industry
It’s particularly important for the solely or predominantly store-based retailers to start marketing again. We know there is a level of uncertainty around what footfall to retailers will look like now that restrictions have drastically eased, but marketeers need to do what they can in order to regain that.
Stores need to do what they can to make themselves a ‘destination’ – somewhere that consumers want to visit and feel like they have a reason or benefit in doing so. This will help to prevent the rapid switch to businesses migrating online, which we’ve seen a lot of businesses do in order to adapt to the growing pressures that Covid-19 has placed on industries.
Safety messaging will also be important for shoppers looking to return to store-based retailers, and they will need to ensure that they are communicating this well so that consumers feel comfortable to do so and aware of new protocols in place.
By James Langan, managing director of Natures Menu