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Retail and the Consumer Filter



We’re half a year into the COVID-19 pandemic that has turned our world upside down. Whether it’s our approach to grocery shopping or to schooling, COVID-19 has significantly impacted our daily lives. One thing is for certain: the consumer is evolving.


From social distancing to mask mandates to anti-bodies (or lack thereof), we’re seeing the implications of this evolution play out across the world. Today’s consumers have developed new beliefs and behaviors based on their personal experiences during this crisis. These experiences are influenced by a myriad of factors from geographic impact and government responses to familial experiences and financial circumstances.


Here at INWK, we’ve developed a filter through which retailers can re-examine their consumers to plan marketing programs that more effectively address the changing needs and bring new energy to the shopping experience.


The 4 Personas of the INWK Consumer Filter

Persona 1

This group is comprised of both those who feel the economy has suffered too much and we must get back to normal regardless of COVID-19, and those that have had and recovered from the virus and feel protected. There are a fair number of vulnerable seniors who fall into this group who simply crave normality.


This group is the broadest and potentially the easiest to re-engage, but there are dynamics at play causing some within this group to behave with a level of entitlement that causes friction at retail. This group doesn’t always understand or respect the rules that retailers have in place such as one-way traffic patterns, mask requirements, or occupancy limits.


Retailers are being forced to redeploy associates in new activities and train in new skills to address the new normal. Whether it is the physical environment or practices such as wayfinding, re-stock process or managing crowd control, employees are being utilized in non-standard ways to help create and maintain a safe environment. Giving associates the skills helps prepare both small and large retailers for this uncertainty.


Ideas to delight this Persona 1

Besides a time-machine to turn back the clock, this group craves the old yet has to deal with the new ways and protocols. This group expects simple guidelines that don’t feel burdensome. For example, each of us can think of good social distancing retail experiences that were clearly signed and simple to follow versus those that leave you struggling to figure out which way the one-way path works. The simpler, the better for this group.



Persona 2

This group has not been infected by COVID-19 and is remaining diligent in measures like hand sanitizing and mask wearing, depending on customs of the market. However, this group is growing fatigued with the distancing measures impacting their social lives and is searching for like-minded friends to expand their support structures.


This group continues to be active in hybrid retail, mixing methods of buying -- online and physical -- and check-out options including self-serve, curbside and delivery.


Ideas to delight Persona 2

Expansion of curbside delivery in food service, warehouse clubs – this is likely to become part of the permanent shifts. This curbside area has great opportunity for stronger retail branding, impulse items, deals of the day, or “values-based” messaging while the consumer waits for delivery. Further afield, a retailer could see this space becoming neutral or “unplugged” zones that support the retailer’s core identity.



Persona 3

This group may or may not have been infected by COVID-19 but has been psychologically changed, nonetheless. This group may have been harboring germophobic tendencies previously, but now the tendencies are full blown. This group has gotten creative in sourcing supplies and building their own bubbles. Cleaning rituals are a daily routine and many essential services have been moved to no- or low-touch engagements wherever possible.


This group is not likely to emerge from this crisis and resume what would have been their normal social or retail activities. Close proximity undertakings, such as movies or large gatherings, will have to be reimagined for this group to be more comfortable. They are not likely to engage in what is perceived as high-exposure point activities, such as airplane travel, before there is a cure or vaccine.


Ideas to delight Persona 3

Consider the expansion of your customer base with food service delivery to home, partnering with restaurants to offer “branded” meal kits from restaurants. This brings families favorites back into the repertoire and helps create an experience at home. This may not be as long lasting as other programming but will put a percentage of traditional spend into this channel.



Persona 4

This group, through either age or pre-existing conditions, is at the highest risk and has been given the strictest guidelines for sheltering in place or social distancing. This group is on the sidelines taking advantage of special hours for seniors at grocery stores, relying on family and friends for services, and waiting for a cure or vaccine. This group has learned to shop online and engage in home delivery, but typically are living on fixed incomes and very modest in their overall spending habits.


Ideas to delight Persona 4

Restricted or special hours to help those who are at the highest risk. In the UK, some grocers prioritize deliveries to this group. Gestures like these helps build a brand profile of authenticity, compassion and understanding.



Retailers are facing the challenges of dealing with multiple personas simultaneously while navigating the continued uncertainty and changing regulations. Here at INWK, our marketing execution expertise allows our partners the flexibility to quickly react when necessary with in-store communication. As old channels become new again, the mailbox is just one example of revitalized medium that connects and shares new services with these personas.


We come ready to address and solve the complexities that the 4 Personas have unleashed; connect with us today to learn more about how we can help.

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