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  • Writer's pictureDavid A. Smith

Unpicking the post-normal: shopping and entertainment

Updated: May 24, 2020

Since workers globally stand to lose between $860 billion and $3.4 trillion of income in 2020 due to the crisis[i], retailers everywhere will need to revisit strategy, messaging and value propositions. Consumer habits will be lost, and others will be gained.

The demands and restrictions of COVID have forced broad digital transformation onto retail, grocers, restaurants and beyond, but this alone will not be sufficient for building a sustainable future. Indeed, it will likely accelerate the convergence and hybridisation of conventional retail business models[ii]. Perhaps most prominently, 'Just Walk Out' shopping and other smart checkout tech pioneered by the likes of AmazonGo that minimise queuing could create a $45 billion market by 2023[iii], but this is not the only form of hybridisation. While retail volumes will likely bounce back in the mid-term, up to 100,000 stores are forecast to close in the US alone by 2025[iv]. New models are needed. For example, Lazada Singapore’s CMO believes that the future of e-commerce is in combining livestreaming and entertainment[v]. This could help entrench incipient change. 59 percent of consumers worldwide reported high levels of interaction with physical stores before COVID-19. In next 6–9 months, only 39 percent of consumers expect a high level of interaction with physical stores[vi]. Changes in habit formed now could last much longer.

Of equal import is that there are more points at which we can engage consumers (both physically and in hybrid forms), especially with forthcoming micro-GPS that can better contextualise data to within mere feet of our position, and the ambient passivity with which we will ‘interact,’ with technology. Emerging data sources and forms of personalisation will ultimately spawn new services and even industries, enabling retailers to add value in entirely new ways – perhaps by creating shopping lists for specific health conditions or personal life goals, for example.

However, while horizon 2 technologies such as VR and AR have the potential to rapidly rearrange the marketing environment, market moves by Google to abolish third-party cookies in its Chrome browser by 2022 could have significant impacts for retailers dependent on this form of ‘personalisation’ [vii]. Partly due to such moves, Gartner forecasts 80 percent of marketers who have ‘already invested in personalisation will abandon their efforts by 2025 because of a lack of ROI, the perils of customer data or both[viii]. A new consumer compact will likely be required that satisfies both the shifting regulations and capacity to personalise with a rising consumer demand for value. To this end, 52 percent of UK shoppers are happy to share their consumer data with retailers if they can save money, suggesting contextual and perhaps deeper relationships[ix].

Key changes

  • In the broader consumer economy, changes in behaviour previously expected to take more than five years may have already happened in five weeks[xi].

  • Fluidity in consumer behaviors and attitudes are inevitable in the post-COVID world.

  • Retailers need to go beyond purpose led marketing to purpose led products and services[x].Key assumptions need revisiting.

For more, visit to access our latest Big Break report on what the post COVID environment could mean for over 40 different sectors.

[i] Source: Money Control, 2020 [ii] Source: Brookings, 2020 [iii] Source: juniper Research, 2018 [iv] Source: Market Watch, 2020 [v] Source: The Drum, 2020 [vi] Source: CapGemini, 2020 [vii] Source: Ad Exchanger, 2020 [viii] Source: Gartner, via CMS Wire, 2020 [ix] Source: RLI, 2020 [x] Source: MarTech Advisor, 2020 [xi] Source: Guardian, 2020

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