Brands find ways to stay in the game as the pandemic changes the rules
As COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions lifted by early summer across the U.S., many CPG brands and retailers returned to tried-and-true shopper marketing techniques. But while the P-O-P displays, circular features and sales that had paused in March resumed, traditional sampling programs remained a challenge because of mask-wearing and social-distancing requirements, and increased concerns about health and hygiene.
Now, brands that relied on sampling to introduce products and increase household penetration are looking for new ways to educate and connect with shoppers.
“The normal things that we do every day just completely changed,” says Stuart Vass, region chain manager for Pernod Ricard USA’s strategic customers. “My whole job is convincing you to buy something while you’re in-store, making an impulse purchase, building the basket, and I can’t do that anymore. We’ve definitely had to think differently. We’ve had to try new things. If we were slowly moving people into e-commerce, [now] we are rapidly moving people into e-commerce.”
The pandemic forced a dramatic increase in the adaptation of e-commerce platforms as shoppers stayed home to avoid potential exposure to the disease. E-commerce likely advanced five to seven years because of the pandemic and sampling strategies have been shifting accordingly, says Alan Verdun, president of sampling company Brandshare.
“People are traveling less to brick-and-mortar stores,” he says. “People are doing more sampling to consumers at home because that’s where they can find consumers.”