COVID-19 has upended consumer behavior like nothing else. Lockdowns have created homebodies who cut back on discretionary spending, embarked on a gardening binge, and remodeled and renovated to the point that American saw mills ran out of lumber.
The challenge now for brands is to understand their role in the new normal. Several, like the below, are finding novel ways to position their offerings and stay relevant during turbulent times.
Getty Museum Challenge: Bringing the Museum Experience Home
Like retail, restaurants and airlines, museums lost consumer patronage during COVID-19. The American Alliance on Museums estimates that US museums are losing $33 million a day due to closures. Can these institutions stay relevant at a time when everyone is hunkered down at home?
The Getty Museum proved that they can. In late March, it issued a challenge on social media to recreate famous works in their collection using household items. Thousands of entries later, the Getty Museum Challenge has kept boredom at bay, given home schooling-stressed families a creative diversion and, most importantly, made art accessible to a wider swathe of people.
Successes like this campaign have inspired other museums to experiment with live streamed tours, virtual visits, Zoom lectures, and other digital ways to experience their collections. For organizations that have traditionally relied on foot traffic in the past, how can you bring the experience to users’ homes? What assets can you leverage to draw in users?
You can find more entries to the Getty Museum Challenge on Instagram with the hashtag #betweenartandquarantine.
OffLimits Cereal: Rejuvenating a Tired Category
With dining out a distant memory, how did people’s eating habits change during COVID? According to food manufacturers, households stockpiled flour, canned soup and cereal. The last has undergone a dramatic turnaround during COVID. After years of sales declines, the once moribund cereal sector is having a renaissance as homebound consumers appreciate its convenience and price.
It may have taken a pandemic for cereal to make a comeback but for new brand OffLimits, cereal is nostalgic yet ripe for reinvention. The cocoa-and-Intelligentsia-coffee flavored Dash is meant as a morning booster while vanilla-and-pandan Boost is designed to help wind down the day. In an old school throwback, all purchases are eligible for tickets that can be redeemed for toys. The toy range at the moment comprises key chains, custom Sharpies, and spray paint.
When Vogue asked OffLimits founder Emily Miller why she focused her efforts on a new kind of cereal, she answered, ‘Why couldn’t there be something fun like Tony the Tiger mixed with the healthy ingredients Mom would approve of?’ As more homebound consumers rediscover packaged goods, brands that innovate in this space will be the new grocery winners.
Stella Artois: Giving Back to the Sector it Knows Best
First written up in Marketing Dive, beer brand Stella Artois created a social media campaign that is true to its roots and hones in on a sector it knows best: bars and restaurants.
Anchored by messaging that said ‘there is always an after’ to a crisis, the campaign encouraged consumers to purchase vouchers for use at these small businesses. Stella Artois will match the value of the vouchers once they are used after the health crisis is over. According to Marketing Dive, the beer brand raised over $2.5 million across 10 countries where the campaign ran.
What made Stella Artois’ campaign so different from the generic COVID commercials that were widely panned in this video supercut was positive, measurable impact on stakeholders with which it had deep relationships. McKinsey, back in 2009, wrote a seminal piece on how companies should choose corporate social responsibility initiatives, and of the principles it outlined in that article, smart partnering holds true in this COVID case study. Small bars and restaurants benefited from the beer brand’s size, presence, and knowledge of their space while the benefit to Stella Artois was enhanced corporate reputation.
KEPT: Luxury in the Most Unexpected Places
As consumer categories waxed and waned during the crisis, one has exploded beyond expectations: home cleaning products. Packaged goods giants Reckitt Benckiser, Unilever and Procter & Gamble have said that they expect consumers’ heightened cleaning habits to continue beyond the pandemic.
Which makes brands like KEPT not only prescient, but poised for success. KEPT gives the lowly dustpan, broom and feather duster the designer touch, making them unexpected luxury items. The utility set pictured above, consisting of an inky black broom, feather duster, dust pan, brush and pegboard, costs $458. And it’s out of stock.
‘I wanted this collection to hit the sweet spot of products that are thoughtfully designed and made — buy once, buy well,’ said Kara Mann, interior designer and the brand founder, to Silicon Valley magazine. ‘It’s a broom that you don’t have to hide away; you can hang it on a pegboard and use it because it feels good in your hand and sweeps beautifully.’
With consumers stuck at home, the whole construct of luxury has changed. Investing in a $2,000 designer bag makes no sense when there’s no opportunity to show it off; instead, the new must-have is a Peloton bike. Luxury brands might want to take a leaf from KEPT’s notebook and understand how it can still inject that little bit of luxe in a home setting.
One brand that has understood this, years before COVID, is Armani. Its dark chocolate and hazelnut spread is the designer version of Nutella.