As the government’s lockdown rules look set to gradually be relaxed over the coming weeks and months, retail executives around the country are considering how they will need to adapt their marketing when shops reopen.

There are some key lessons to be learnt from supermarket retailers, who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, keeping the population well stocked with essentials. As normality begins to return, supermarket retail executives are also starting to think about how marketing will change for the rest of the year.

Point of purchase marketing to be overhauled

Point of purchase (POP) marketing looks set to be completely overhauled by many retail executives. Normally a key strategy, the current pandemic has noticeably reduced the availability of many tools supermarket retail executives would normally deploy on the shop floor.

The production of marketing items like “wobblers” – the laminated card disks on bendy plastic arms that can be affixed to shelves to display great deals from a distance, has ceased almost entirely during the lockdown. The production of many other displays, signs and banners has, quite reasonably, been deemed non-essential. This does not look set to change in the near future either, and so retail executives are left with significantly reduced options when it comes to point of purchase marketing.

Shelf-ready packaging will become even more important

One area that has been less heavily impacted is the production of shelf-ready/ retail-ready packaging. This term is used to describe the boxes which are used to store and ship items (packets, jars etc.) which are then left on the shelves. They are designed to prominently advertise the product in an eye-catching way. Because food production has been deemed essential, these products have still needed packaging, therefore this type of marketing has been less affected. Shelf ready packaging looks set to become even more important during the gradual return to normality.

Priming will come to the fore

Priming is also a key strategy for retail executives – now more than ever. Priming involves exposing a potential customer to a specific brand before they actually reach the point of purchase. This works on the basic psychological principle that people’s attention is more drawn to products that they have recently seen.

Social distancing measures have forced many large retail stores to implement safe social distancing queuing systems, with customers being asked to wait in long car park queues. Supermarket car parks and entranceways have always been a prime spot for retail executives to advertise fast-moving consumer goods. With the introduction of queuing, any space that is visible from the queuing area has become a key spot for priming customers – after all, there is very little else to look at, so well placed promotions and adverts can capture significant levels of attention.

There are lots of lessons that retail executives from all areas can learn from the experiences of supermarket retailers, to help guide their marketing strategy over the coming months.

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