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Which consumer trends have impacted retail throughout Q2?

After spending all of Q1 in lockdown, retailers re-opened their doors on April 12th in England with the rest of the UK following suit shortly afterwards. Since late December 2021 retailers had to rely on social media to continue the conversation with their customers to keep them engaged. But Q2 tells a story of retailers now able to invite shoppers to engage both online and offline. Let's take a look at how the High Street re-opened and the consumer trends that are emerging.

Who and what drove the reopening conversation?

We profiled leading businesses across the UK High Streets to see which content drove the most social media engagement on April 12th as England opened its doors.

Primark

With no e-commerce presence and only a physical store footprint, Primark has continued to engage customers through multiple lockdowns and were well poised to welcome customers back. Primark teased and excited customers with new products, as well as its reopening plans.

Customers couldn't wait to get back in store. Queues were reported up and down the country with some shopping centres opening car parks as early as 6am to accommodate the Primark effect.

 

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A post shared by Primark (@primark)

Lending a hand

While Primark benefitted from ‘real world’ engagement, the biggest social media buzzes mentioning reopening were delivered by ASOS and Tesco. Interestingly, neither of these businesses had been closed during lockdown. These businesses participated in the reopening conversation to support other local businesses. In ASOS' case, the brand shone its social media light to drive engagement around the reopening of nail salons, while Tesco came out in support of local pubs.

 

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A post shared by ASOS (@asos)

 

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A post shared by Tesco (@tescofood)

What consumer trends have emerged through Q2

COVID-19 accelerated an already growing trend of consumer support to shop locally. From March 1 to June 30 there have been over 77,000 pieces of content across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the #shoplocal hashtag. While the conversation grew on the previous period by only 1%, the engagement with that content - likes, comments and shares - has grown by almost 900%. This shows the increased consumer interest in what local and independent businesses have to say and have to offer.

Instagram has a ready-made feature to allow retailers to badge their content with a shop local button, while both Facebook and Instagram shopping solutions make it easier for indies to get online. But it's not just independents who stand to benefit from the local impact.

Thinking global, acting local

Lush made the decision in 2019 to rethink its social media. It opted to allow individual stores to continue to operate local social media accounts with support from a central brand and comms function. Stores are empowered to communicate at a local level highlighting reasons to visit and showcasing the tactile nature of the stores through a style of social content that evokes the sensual nature of its store experience.

As the brand re-opened its flagship Oxford Street store in May 2021, Lush Oxford Street showed off its new store fit and the experience shoppers could expect when they next visited. Rather than focusing on product alone, Lush detailed how its fittings are manufactured and sourced as well as highlighting their suppliers buying procedures.

Lush's content, while local, consistently radiates the sustainable and ethical values that flow through the brand, from operations to packaging and in-store marketing. Providing a local approach, visibility on its commitment to its values and showcasing the in-store experience gives Lush's customers reasons to engage both online and offline.

Joules also knows the importance of creating local identities for each of its stores. Just in time for the May half term, Joules capitalised on the staycationing customer. With a number of its stores located in coastal towns across the UK, Joules used content from its Wellsbeach store to engage its audience.

Consumers continue to look for ways to support their local businesses, economies and places. Recognise the places you are located in and the communities you serve in your social media content. You will benefit from the increased relevance and personal approach you are seen to be taking with your customers.

 

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A post shared by Joules (@joules)

Be where your customers are

It’s not just physical and local spaces that brands need to align themselves more closely to. TikTok and Instagram Reels enjoyed huge growth through the pandemic and lockdown as people took to social media as a source of entertainment. Consumer trends favour useful tutorials to offer styling advice like JD Sports, or adding comedy, personality and humanity to content like Primark. Tik Tok presents a way for brands to serve branded content in a format customers are increasingly using and actively seeking entertainment from.

Key takeaway

Throughout Q2, brands who have tapped into the current mood and needs of their customers have best engaged them. Supporting local, exploring new social platforms, or encouraging physical store visits with inspiring and modern store fits, present opportunities for businesses to increase their relevance to customers through shared passion points across social media and capitalise on consumer trends.

Being effective on social media is about driving value for customers first, so that businesses can derive longer term value from them down the line.

With the Maybe* platform, you don’t have to be a social media pro to increase traffic and sales.

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