By: Leanne Nutter, Brand and Retail Director at Blackjack Promotions
The global pandemic has forced us to go without many things over the past 18 months. Travel abroad, bricks and mortar retail experiences, events and many other leisure activities have had to be delivered under restrictions or, at times, not at all.
It has meant that the age-old saying ‘you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone’ has never been truer of everyday life in COVID times. However, as we look to increased freedom over the coming weeks, new research, which we conducted with over 1,000 consumers, has brought the importance of human connection in everyday experiences to the fore.
It revealed that the experience of the pandemic has compelled almost two thirds of consumers to appreciate how important human connection is now, when shopping and enjoying leisure facilities. As we begin to see the return of normality with restrictions gradually lifting, this makes our return to the stage even more exciting.
As the UK’s leading travel retail and brand experience specialist, we know that people make a difference. People are the asset that enables brands to become human. For more than 25 years we have been collaborating with brands, venues, and events, creating chemistry with our pool of talented people, that connects with our clients’ customers, shoppers, and visitors.
As we enter a period of recovery, we have launched a new brand positioning which is built on six people values and behaviours, emphasising the importance of teamwork, always listening, always working with a smile and a passion to getting stuck in. Coupled with the research that we’ve undertaken, we are confident that now, more than ever, adopting a strategic focus on people will offer us a pathway to a successful recovery.
It was moving to learn that over a third of people have missed human contact when visiting hospitality and retail destinations; highlighting just how important our role is in not just elevating consumer experience, but in some cases, making someone’s day.
This need for human connection also applies to travel retail. A quarter of the consumers we spoke to said they will miss being given samples if restrictions are still in place when they next visit an airport.
While the need for some safety measures remain in place, we are eager to start planning activations once again. Over the past couple of months, we have seen brands adapt to post-pandemic operations and start to reinvest in their marketing. From creating a wild adventure for Hendrick’s in London’s Heathrow Terminal 5 to a tennis themed interactive activation, brands are ready to involve their audience and the feeling is mutual.
Our pool of talented people, who have returned to the shopfloor, have seen that customers are looking to engage with staff in a COVID-safe way with many requesting to sample products, across all categories.
The research that we’ve undertaken will strengthen the case to get back out there; consumers are ready and that is a hugely positive step in the recovery.
We know that the future of retail, both in and out of the airport, is likely to be somewhat different in the aftermath of Coronavirus, but now, more than ever, we appreciate the power that people have in making it an exciting experience again.
From outdoor events to personal customer experiences, the people that greet you are crucial. A smile, a moment of genuine care, whatever it is, human connections really mean something now.
We cannot wait to be that face you see as you walk through the airport terminal, event space or shopping centre. See you soon!