How marketers can cash in on Auckland’s emergence from lockdown

As Auckland shakes the shackles of a gruelling lockdown, its residents are poised to spend big and give a much-needed boost to the New Zealand economy. Outbrain’s Andrew Burke digs into the opportunities for marketers and advertisers to make the most of the impending spending boom.

There’s a fantastic ad by, of all things, a chewing gum brand which perfectly sums up that feeling of emerging from an extended time in lockdown, quite literally blinking into the sunlight. 

Give it a watch, I’ll wait. 

Good, isn’t it?

If you’re in Auckland in particular you can probably identify with at least a couple of moments here – 107 days is a gruelling stretch to be confined. The end to lockdown was eagerly anticipated by all. 

It’s already kicking off, with 69 percent of Aucklanders planning on some retail therapy now that the city has truly opened up. It’s also a country-wide phenomenon, with six out of 10 New Zealanders happy to spend.

Black Friday and Cyber Week were a great start, with a $250m shot in the arm for retailers (up seven percent on the year before despite retail being limited in some areas) which is a sample of how much potential there is out there. The onus is now on marketers to keep this momentum going, and to ensure their businesses don’t get left behind in the wave of new spending.

Take advantage of where your consumers are shopping

We know that COVID was a massive digital accelerator, with most stores meeting the challenge of a remote world by bringing their businesses online or improving their virtual offerings. We’re now seeing the long term pay off from this investment, with a 43 percent increase in online spending in the 2021 level four lockdown, compared to 2020’s level four lockdown.

The clear advantages of online marketplaces is the ability to provide consumers with a hyper-personalised experience. This means a chance to create quality recommendations that reflect a consumer’s true interests, not simply taking the chance to spruik a high-commission product. Marketers can capitalise on the context provided through online shopping – for example, if someone shops for a swimsuit, provide recommendations for a beach towel or bag.

It’s also a chance to reacquaint yourself with your consumers and understand how their spending habits may have evolved over this time. Investigate which segments of your audience are still profitable, have the potential to become more profitable, or have decreased in profitability.

And while online marketplaces were flooded during New Zealand’s various lockdowns, the loosening of restrictions and the fortuitous timing of Black Friday saw Kiwis flock to physical stores. Outbrain research revealed that most consumers see the biggest benefit of in-store shopping as the ability to see, touch, taste and feel products. 

Marketers and advertisers should play upon the immediate gratification and confidence that comes with in-store shopping in their strategies. This is particularly relevant as consumers grapple with supply chain issues that have placed a chokehold on most industries towards the end of the year. 

It’s also important to assuage any hesitations Aucklanders or New Zealanders have about in-store shopping, so brands must be upfront about their COVID-safe initiatives. Marketers and advertisers must develop the trust between brand and consumer so in-store shopping experiences are as frictionless as possible.

It’s now apparent that whether you’re counting feet through the door or clicks to a page, it’s never been more important for brands to ensure they’re supporting customers through both.

Can you put a price on loyalty?

With an onslaught of Aucklanders ready to open their wallets, all companies should be prioritising how to retain these customers in the long term. 

Most people are used to logging into their email and seeing an inbox clogged full of marketing EDMs. Companies can expect to see even more sign-ups following Black Friday sales – nailing the first few EDMs and providing true value is key in ensuring you don’t get blocked or added to an unsubscribe list. 

Offering consumers a discount on their next purchase is standard practice for most companies, but creating a rewarding loyalty programme and highlighting the benefits of this in the first correspondence between you and the consumer can provide long-term benefits. Loyalty programmes must deliver consistent and diverse rewards for a consumer – think birthday gifts, credit points, exclusive sales, behind-the-scenes access, etc.

More consumers are also more budget conscious, and 40 percent of Kiwis say lockdowns and restrictions helped them manage their household budget better. Offering buy now, pay later alternatives is an increasingly popular choice, especially with younger generations. Let consumers know you care about their bottom line, while they contribute to yours.

It’s also important to reward customers for their support throughout the pandemic and the recent lockdown. Customer loyalty kept businesses running throughout the pandemic, and can make or break a cash flow. More than ever, customers and businesses now have a sense of responsibility to each other. 

Marketers and advertisers can provide special offers or discounts to consumers who shopped with the company throughout the lockdown, and can also highlight the unique communities and stories that surround the brand. It’s time to be straight with these consumers – especially when we were all in the same boat.

It’s been a tough time for New Zealand, and Auckland is the last city to try and shake off the strictures of lockdown. Brands are there to help consumers reward themselves for making it through – and marketers can ensure they stay.

Andrew Burke is Managing Director, APAC and Growth Markets (India, China, Brazil).

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