2022, a mix between shopping experience and constant communication

If 2021 has been about adaptability in the retail & FMCG brands’ communication, then in 2022 companies will have to support the consumers’ need to have an efficient shopping experience. Starting from the add to cart moment until the product reaches them at their doorstep. Moreover, a return of investment budgets is expected for this year, as brands have learned how crucial presence and communication are in a major crisis.

A global study conducted by McKinsey at the end of 2020 shows that over 75% of consumers who changed their consumption preferences during the year did not intend to return to the old habits soon. In this context, businesses had to keep up with these changes and constantly adapt their communication. “The year 2021 was about adaptability, and brands that wanted to remain present in the conversations with consumers carefully study the changes they went through and how consumer behavior has evolved. Perhaps the biggest keyword of 2021, in terms of consumer behavior, was escaping reality. Brands have seized here an opportunity to interact with the audience and have outlined campaigns to address this desire, either through creative awards or branded spaces turned into an oasis of peace during the pandemic”, said Dragos Bocai, Managing Director Mediascope.

At the same time, 2021 meant a return of the consumer to physical stores, influenced by the relaxation of restrictive measures. Retailers were once again able to benefit from one of the strengths of this space, namely personal interaction with the consumer and the ability to provide immediate satisfaction. “Ultimately, physical stores give consumers the chance to be sociable, to discover or explore products they wouldn’t normally look for online – completely different aspects from the less personal online experience,” explains Dragos Bocai.

Offline vs. online communication

As digitalization took the lead in the pandemic, the process is influenced by the need for companies to function in optimal parameters in this new reality. Brands adapted, and online became the main channel through which they kept live the interaction with consumers during the lockdown. “Then we saw a spectacular increase in digital channels, but the real benefits come when there is no online vs. offline, and brands focus on an omnichannel strategy.

The consumer interacts with a brand through various touchpoints online or offline, and brands must ensure that it addresses his needs in each case, and on any channel. Digital will remain an environment which can influence consumer journey, and we can transform physical stores from point-of-sale into point-of-experience “, explains Dragos Bocai.

Do omnichannel communication campaigns thus become the new norm, including in the retail & FMCG industry, where offline has the largest market share? “I believe that the future will belong to those brands that will perfectly integrate the two environments in the communication strategy and will offer the consumer a consistent experience.

Omnichannel is constantly focused on the consumer, and the interaction you have as a brand with a customer must be continuous and relevant, to effectively implement such a strategy. And to provide a compelling experience”, says the general manager of Mediascope.

Recommendations for retailers and manufacturers

Since the outbreak of the virus, the Romanian consumer has become a more cautious shopper. 60% of Romanians have postponed major purchases, and 57% say they have spent less, according to an iSense Solutions study. Thus, the price remains an extremely important aspect for the consumer, who considers the cost and is sensitive to promotions in the purchase process.

“At the same time, the consumer has become oversaturated with pandemic messages and feels the need to regain control of his own life. In this sense, he is looking for experiences to escape from everyday life and expects the same from the brands he pursues, even those in the FMCG & retail industry. They want from them a communication focused on values ​​and experiences, on optimism and with messages that would inspire them”, explains Dragos Bocai.

In this context, what should a retail & FMCG brand pay attention to in communicating with consumers in 2022? First, communication must remain transparent and constant. It is paramount for a brand to maintain a permanent interaction with its audience, adapted to different channels, and especially to its needs at that moment.

“This can be achieved with the help of an effective omnichannel strategy and a good knowledge of your audience, so brands can come up with solutions to their needs. The consumer is looking for a personalized experience, through which he feels included and gets something in return. Loyalty programs are helpful here, where can be integrated a mix of online and offline experiences”, he explains.

Technology integration is another trend that grew since the lockdown period when brands focused on recreating the offline to the online shopping experience. Whether it’s video content, AI, or technological innovations used in the physical space of the store, consumers enjoy the benefits of technological advancement. Moreover, they are currently looking for their in-store experience to be as efficient as possible. And in this sense, brands can integrate digital solutions, such as self-checkout houses or digital displays with information on the shelf, to improve their visit to stores.

2022 and return on investment in communication

For the current year, the director of Mediascope estimates a return of the budgets allocated by the retail & FMCG brands, considering that the investments in this area remained at a low level in 2021. “There was a slight recovery, but we still do not have reached pre-pandemic investments.

The first budget cut starting with March 2020 was the marketing ones, which impacted the activities of the departments, and at the same time, the flow of the briefs sent to the agencies. Most of the investments went to the Modern Trade and e-commerce channel.

We are optimistic that 2022 will bring a significant improvement in investment. We trust brands that they have learned how important it is to be present on the market in a major crisis, to maintain the market shares gained in the past. An active presence of brands means a constant investment and consistent communication, regardless of the socio-economic context”, he says.

What is expected in 2022 from this perspective of retail & FMCG brand communication? Will the brands be more open, more eager to communicate? “2021 was a period of transition to a new paradigm, as all aspects of life. Especially the environment in which we live, work, interact with each other that adapted to the new conditions.

If at the beginning of 2020 certain brands chose to remain active in communication, compared to others that detached, in 2021, communication returned in parameters close to those of 2019 and expanded on several channels. And we have seen how traditional businesses have made their way online to remain relevant. In 2022, brands will have to sustain the need for consumers to have an efficient shopping experience, from the moment they add to the cart until the product reaches their home.

At the same time, trends such as social commerce and sustainability will continue to grow in the coming year and consumers will be extremely attentive to the transparency with which brands communicate, both online and offline”, concludes Dragos Bocai.

“The consumer is looking for a personalized experience, through which they feel included and get something in return.”

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