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The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted businesses across the globe, with live events and in-person interactions being hardest hit. For the bulk of the year, social distancing and virtual engagements have been the name of the game. With some retail stores shut down early in the pandemic, many brands found innovative and interesting ways to engage with their audiences. But when we return to business as usual will any of these serve as an adequate substitute for authentic, in-person interactions?
A “brand activation” is a campaign, event or experience that enables a supplier to engage directly with consumers to build brand loyalty. Retailers have traditionally partnered with manufacturers to host experiential in-person activations. Giving brands the opportunity to connect with customers face-to-face, the activations carry the added benefit of bringing additional foot traffic to retailers and creating memorable experiences to keep them coming back. And while most of our interpersonal interaction is happening in front of screens these days, safe in-person connections with consumers are more important than ever. It is no longer enough for brands to create and for retailers to distribute superior products—it is necessary to authentically connect with audiences.
While the pandemic continues to present unique challenges to in-store experiential marketing, they are not insurmountable. Brands must design in-store retail experiences that avoid group gatherings to keep consumers, brand representatives, and retail associates safe, while remaining authentic, creative and memorable. In-store experiences aren’t going away—in today’s new normal, if customers are shopping in a store, it carries a heightened importance. With the meteoric rise of online shopping, the immersive, tangible interaction with a product is important, so how can brands and retailers partner to elevate the experience to benefit the consumer, the retailer and the brand itself?
Authenticity Is Key
When it comes to connecting with consumers on a personal level, it’s all about authenticity. Every organization—from brands and manufacturers to retailers—struggles with balancing authentic connection and promotion, but it’s important to develop an internal compass that leads the strategy to stay true to who the organization is. It’s crucial that the activation is truly about the recipient, the user, the customer and not just about making sales. Create a light in the recipient’s day, rather than an obstacle. In a time when customer loyalty often hinges on authenticity, it has never been more important to practice altruism.
Keep It Simple
At Bosch Power Tools, our experiential activations come down to a simple question: can we make an impact on the consumer in five seconds or less? If the answer is no, the activation is too complex. Simplicity is key. It’s not about how big and flashy an activation can be—it’s about scaling responsibly and creating a memorable impact.
Rooted in Joy
At the end of the activation, the most important Key Performance Indicator isn’t meeting the day’s planned sales goals—it’s whether you brought joy to the consumer, ultimately building a stronger relationship with brand and retailer. Both benefit from an altruistic relationship with these individual customers, above and beyond the “buy more, sell more” mentality. Giving genuine excitement back to customers gives both teams the inspiration and motivation to push themselves creatively. How do you continue to surprise and delight the consumer?
In our upcoming activation with Lowe’s, Bosch found ways to have fun with consumers while keeping within social distance guidelines. Whether we’re surprising customers by pushing complimentary product down an aisle to consumers on a scooter, or randomly gifting at the customer service desk, we’re putting a little joy into this holiday season.