Every time you blink, something changes in the world of business and branding. It’s especially true of this moment in history: as a society in flux breaks from the norms of the past, brands are stepping in to comfort, heal, and make a statement on how they’ll fit into the future that lies ahead. Spy10 is here to capture all the moments you missed, and explore the ones that might mean something big to your brand.. because right now, you could be the next innovator the world needs.
Here are the highlights:
1) Dining without contact
Dining establishments are rapidly adapting to behavioral changes in response to COVID-19.
KFC has opened a “restaurant of the future” in Russia that aims to minimize contact between employees and consumers. Robotic arms will carry out tasks that employees once did, serving buckets of food to pick-up points where consumers can collect them with a specific pin code.
Coca-Cola is introducing contactless technology to freestyle beverage machines in over 10,000 different locations in the coming months. Customers will be able to operate the machine using a QR code. Coca-Cola says all machines will include the technology before the end of 2020.
Taco Bell has developed a new service called “Taco Bell Go Mobile” which allows diners to order prior to their visit through the new app. The “Go Mobile” locations will include a traditional drive-thru as well as a priority lane that will serve customers who have purchased food through the app.
As people start to slowly emerge from their homes, the service industry must respond creatively to provide an environment that’s safe for all.
Coca-Cola unveils touch-free soda machines for the era of COVID-19
Taco Bell is launching a mobile-focused, double drive-thru model in 2021
2) Coming together while staying apart
From event production teams to fitness companies, brands are developing creative ways to provide enjoyable experiences with limited physical contact.
The entertainment scene has evolved from closely packed venues to socially distanced and drive-in concerts. Metallica will perform drive-in concerts across the US beginning on August 29th, coordinated by leading integrated event production group Encore Live.
The UK has also hosted its first socially distanced concert: cars were parked two meters apart before guests were guided to their own platformed private viewing areas. All food and beverages could be ordered beforehand or through an app.
Zero touch spaces have also been used to give people a taste of normality while keeping safe. In Redondo Beach, California the Inspire South Bay Club has created individual pods for users to exercise safely in a team setting. This “dome” trend has also been spotted in the UK dining scene this summer.
Brands that specialize in social experiences will need to think outside the box to create a sense of normality.
3) Stores that fit in the palm of your hands
Hoka One One is offering a mobile shopping experience through Snapchat to bring the changing room to the consumer’s home. An augmented reality pop-up store includes a virtual “try on” feature, which transposes a digital image of sneakers onto the shopper’s feet. Users can then purchase the products directly from the app.
PetSmart is playfully employing AR via Snapchat with a quiz that transforms the user's face into a reptile based on answers. The feature includes an offer for 40% off a pet reptile with the purchase of a starter kit.
The beauty industry is also embracing the AR experience, even as stores begin to re-open. MAC cosmetics has introduced an AR tool on its e-commerce site for lip and eye products for countries including the UK, Australia, Germany.
Creating an interactive consumer experience for digital devices allows brands to maintain their connection with their target market while keeping everyone safe.
4) Making sustainability an everyday practice
From fast food to beauty, brands across sectors are innovating ways to reduce waste.
PriestmanGoode has developed fast food packaging design to help restaurant chains meet sustainability goals. In lieu of single-use plastic, consumers will pay a small fee for reusable packaging and will be reimbursed on their next order when containers are returned to the restaurant.
Coca-Cola European Partners are stepping up by launching the new paperboard “CanCollar” in Spain to reduce the use of plastic rings. This innovation will prevent more than 18 tons of plastic from entering landfills every year.
NIVEA has also taken steps to reduce its usage of plastic packaging by introducing its first shower gel refill station.
More than two-thirds of American consumers consider how sustainable a brand is when making a purchase. Sustainable consumption will shape consumer behavior and choice and brands that don’t participate in the circular economy will be left behind.
PriestmanGoode creates reusable fast food packaging from cocoa bean shells
Coca-Cola European Partners delivers a first in Europe through the introduction of CanCollar® technology
NIVEA launches its first shower gel refill station to reduce plastic packaging waste
5) The intersection of health and comfort
FMCG Gurus found that 60% of consumers have recently increased their snacking intake, especially confectionary snacks. Consumers also stated that they planned to eat healthier due to COVID, driving demand for snacks with low sugar and fat content.
Coca-Cola dairy brand Fairlife partnered with Boardwalk Frozen Treats for the release of a lactose-free Fairlife Light Ice Cream. The new product comes in seven flavors, each with eight to nine grams of protein and 40% less sugar than other ice creams.
Vegan Oatly Ice-Cream has also launched an oat-based ice cream across the US, with flavors including traditional chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry as well as others.
CPG brands can explore the intersection of health-conscious and comfort foods to excel within the market.
6) Bio-hacking beveragesBio-hacking is driving change within the ready-to-drink beverage category. Shoppers are perusing the category with more than just hydration and flavor in mind: they’re enhancing both mind and body through ingredients such as collagen for skin, CBD for relaxation, probiotics for gut health, and adaptogens for mental vitality.
Newcomers to this category are innovating in exciting ways. Upriver Cacao uses cacao fruit for a natural energy boost and magnesium for improved mood and sleep quality. Moment offers “meditation in a can” with natural ingredients like ashwagandha and tulsi to increase alpha brainwaves and reduce stress. Finally, Oliopop promises digestive health by supporting microbiomes with a combination of probiotics, plant fibers, and botanicals.
As health and wellness becomes a priority, find opportunities to move beyond flavor to highlight how certain ingredients enhance both mind and body.
7) Taking the prep out of meal prep
The Homebody Economy is booming as consumers make staying put part of their daily routine. Half of Americans remain very concerned about dining out and are opting to cook at home instead.
Semi-prepared meal providers aim to fill in the gap for those who are quickly losing interest in assembling dinner every night. These services vary from the prepare-everything-yourself variety of meal subscription services by providing hardware, exclusive ingredients, and a 30-minute-or-less cook time.
Brands who have seized this moment include Tovala and Sun Basket. Tovala uses a proprietary smart oven and weekly deliveries to provide fresh meals in 20 minutes or less with no prep work required. Sun Basket, meanwhile, extended its meal options to include “no prep” choices that can be ready in 15 to 40 minutes.
Just because consumers are staying home doesn’t mean they’re any less busy than they were before. Try to find ways to make their new daily routines easier as they adjust to the new status quo.
8) Going beyond simple sanitation
Hand hygiene was once about basic sanitation. But as using hand sanitizer becomes second nature, consumers are looking for products that reflect their personality and interests.
Producers are responding with different colors, fragrances, textures, packaging, ingredients, and sustainability claims. These innovations will likely only increase as Facebook lifts its ban on ads and e-commerce listings for hand sanitizers and sanitization wipes.
Touchland—which describes itself as “the first beauty-forward sanitizer designed to make your skin happy”—launched a line that included different scents and colors that sold out with a waitlist upon launch.
Humankind is addressing sustainability concerns by selling large 8 oz recyclable aluminum bottles, which are designed to refill the standard travel-size plastic sanitizer bottles to keep them out of landfills for longer.
An increased interest in pandemic essentials like hand sanitizer is continuing for longer than we may have initially thought. Consider ways to go beyond functional benefits.
9) Raising the bar with at-home experiences
Alcohol sales remain steadily above pre-pandemic numbers. With consumers still homebound, alcohol brands are creating in-home mixology experiences to elevate the at-home drinking experience as an alternative to bar-going.
Bombay Sapphire partnered with Skillshare and Society 6 to launch a new platform called “Create From Home,” which builds on their mission of inspiring and empowering people to discover the creative possibilities within introduces consumers to the art of mixology through online classes, workshops, and cocktail-making sessions.
Patrón made it easier to craft cocktails at home with Patrón Pantry. Powered by a partnership with Amazon, consumers are able to choose from three cocktails and order ingredients straight to their door.
Consumers are missing pre-pandemic experiences they once took for granted. Think of creative ways to bring those experiences in-home to fill the void.
10) Saying farewell to fast fashion
Last year saw the rise of second-hand marketplaces as conscious consumers rejected fast fashion. The pandemic has only accelerated these concerns: research indicates consumers’ focus on anti-excess principles and conscious consumption is here to stay. As a result, fashion brands are forgoing fast fashion to focus on quality, longevity, and sustainability.
Both luxury and mainstream brands are responding to this trend. American Eagle recently launched a new concept called Unsubscribed, which highlights pieces designed to be worn forever rather than a season.
Gucci is also focusing on slow fashion by saying goodbye to a traditional fashion calendar and going seasonless. They’ve also launched Gucci Circular Lines, which uses regenerated materials that are recyclable and sustainable.
Consumers want to know your brand is committed to sustainability. Consider ways to connect with consumers with messages, experiences, and products that showcase longevity and quality.
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