By Carmen Trepat
More than ever we have come to realize that we live in a V.U.C.A. world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous). It is often said that “change is the only constant” and this is certainly true of the retail sector. Without a doubt, retail has undergone several important disruptions over the last few years. We have learned it day by day.
In this spirit of ongoing change, the current coronavirus crisis represents a significant challenge for the retail sector and, as with any battle, there will be winners and losers. Retailers and developers who are able to identify ways to get closer to and be supportive of clients and society during this time of crisis will surely be the winners. Retailers and developers need to take advantage of the “momentum” in an ethical way.
Some retailers are already taking prudent steps in this direction. For example, food retailers are delivering food at no extra cost to more elderly customers. Others are providing support to children by offering free internet games. Or share important information virtually, including helpful advice, tutorials, and health tips for families and the elderly. Still others provide healthy new menus, exercise tables, or masks in the case of fashion retailers, while developers let all their spaces be used for community purposes. All at no cost.
Customers have selective memory, they will not forget it. Thus, retailers investment in socially responsible actions in this time of crisis will create positive brand messaging that will remain long after coronavirus has disappeared. To be sure, these measures will require that retailers incur short-term cost. However, through their benevolent actions, smart retailers will not only support society in a time of desperate need, but also help create profoundly positive and “sticky” brand messaging for the sector overall.