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Being mission-driven is the key to success in retail

Research from Iterable, a leading cross-channel marketing platform, revealed that 89% of UK and US marketers working in retail and e-commerce saw their organisation as mission-driven in 2020. 

The COVID-19 pandemic forced retail and e-commerce brands to communicate differently in 2020 and be more mission-driven. Almost a quarter (23%) of companies shifted to more empathy-driven communications – only sales-driven (26%) and crisis response-driven communications (26%) rose more amongst these businesses.

The retail & e-commerce marketing landscape appears permanently altered, with 88% of marketers in this sector anticipating maintaining these new customer communication strategies in 2021.

Alyssa Jarrett, director, brand & content marketing at Iterable said: “The extended closure of retail stores during the pandemic created new challenges for brands to stay connected with customers. Digital channels have been invaluable here, allowing retail brands to tap into customer concerns and passions during a year like no other. Connecting with the issues customers care about relies on empathy-driven marketing. Our research demonstrates that retail brands are working hard to communicate with sensitivity on the social issues that are foremost in their customers’ minds. This work to understand how customers are feeling is crucial for brands, helping build strong connections with customers that will last well beyond the pandemic.”

In 2020, customers put a lot of pressure on brands to earn their trust. People wanted to know what brands thought about the social issues at the forefront of everyone’s minds, ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic to the call for social justice in the Black Lives Matter Movement. Retail and e-commerce companies took action by publicly addressing these topics head on:

  • 55% issued a statement on racial inequality
  • 44% issued a statement on public health
  • 43% issued a statement on gender inequality

Over four-fifths (81%) of respondents plan to continue campaigns this year with messaging on one or more of these issues.

However, retail and e-commerce brands are careful to keep their campaigning away from party politics: 81% of respondents agreed that as a consumer brand, it is their responsibility to maintain a neutral stance towards any political party.

As brands continue their conversation with consumers on social issues and refining their messaging during the pandemic era, one thing is clear: Ethics and morality will be key components of brand trust for the foreseeable future.