Activation Gallery: COVID-19 at Retail

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Activation Gallery: COVID-19 at Retail

By Path to Purchase IQ Staff - 05/01/2020

When the coronavirus pandemic took hold in March, brands and retailers had to react, first to keep people safe, and then also to determine a way of still doing business. We present a sampling of the activity the editors of the Path to Purchase Institute observed. Institute members can see much more COVID-19-related activity in the image vault at P2PI.org.

  • While many programs were scrapped or put on hold in response to the pandemic, Best Buy quickly rolled out its own COVID-19-inspired promotional efforts capitalizing on the increased demand for home technology as much of the country prepared to stay home indefinitely. The consumer electronics retailer launched a dedicated “be-at-home essentials” e-commerce shop corralling “the tech you want for a cleaner, more productive home” in categories including home office, home cleaning, health monitoring, fitness, kitchen and entertainment.
  • Ahold Delhaize’s The Giant Company launched a COVID-19-inspired #MoreForAll call to action in a move to combat stockpiling by encouraging shoppers to purchase “only what they need.”
  • Target adjusted its circular activity during the pandemic, stopping print ads on March 29. It communicated that the change was temporary in an April 5 email blast and on the covers of its March 29, April 5 and April 12 digital circulars.
  • A CVS video ad ran on Weather.com, auto-playing at the top of an article landing page. The audio message started with “To help you through the current health crisis ...,” and the ad went on to plug free delivery service.
  • The home page of Procter & Gamble’s Tide promoted a free laundry service for “the family of frontline responders” in select cities.
  • Spring arrived with most of the country under stay-at-home orders ... a perfect time for The Scotts Co. to promote its subscription lawn program, which delivers fertilizers to consumer homes throughout the year.
  • Petco moved quickly to adjust its social media messaging and connect with consumers as COVID-19 took hold while others in the channel went temporarily silent or did nothing to acknowledge the pandemic. Among the pet retailer’s first related posts was one that empathized with consumers who are stuck at home while promoting the chain’s PupBox subscriptions and one that shared a video of “must-haves” to include in emergency preparedness kits while linking to a pet essentials e-commerce shop. Petco even leveraged Instagram stories to stream a live Q&A with its head of veterinary medicine.
  • In an April email with the subject line “Right now, home maintenance is even more important,” Lowe’s showcased product images of Samsung water filters, 3M’s Filtrete and a Duracell battery.
  • Albertsons’ Jewel-Osco was one of the many retailers to install plexiglass partitions at checkout to protect cashiers and shoppers.
  • Lowe’s employed standees, floor clings and unframed printed signs to enforce social distancing at its stores. Plexiglass also was installed at the customer service desks and at checkout.
  • Among the measures Walmart is adopting against COVID-19 is limiting the number of people allowed inside its stores at any time by admitting shoppers one-by-one at a single entrance. Those waiting outside to get in are asked to stand in makeshift queues at a distance of six feet apart. Inside stores, the retailer is placing floor markers at six-feet intervals in checkout lines to help people maintain the recommended distance.
  • Signs affixed to shelves at a ShopRite store in College Point, New York, asked shoppers to stand six feet away from employees as they restock and work, while directing them to union United Food and Commercial Workers Local 342’s Facebook page to learn more. Elsewhere in the same store, ShopRite signs within the aisles communicated purchase limits on items such as eggs, aloe gel, baby wipes, bleach, disinfectant sprays and bottled water.
  • Aldi-owned Trader Joe’s was quick to have its safety measures and store operations in place, including limiting the number of shoppers inside the store and keeping shelves fully stocked. A chalkboard sign outside a store in Chicago communicated: “Given the current environment we will be bagging all of your groceries in our paper bags free of charge.”