Whether it’s due to safety concerns, strict in-store capacities, or limited disposable income, many businesses have lost momentum in their customer relationships throughout the past year. Rebuilding confidence and loyalty will be key to welcoming back shoppers. It’s probable that the effects of COVID-19 on behaviour will outlast the pandemic – how do we encourage our audience to re-engage after forming major changes in spending habits? People are more likely to remember the brands that make the right choices now, and, with many municipalities starting to re-open, here are some ways that we thought could help industries can stay relevant during their recovery. 

 

Restaurants

 

After an unusual year, the foodservice industry faces a still-uncertain future. Businesses are figuring out how to navigate new conditions – strategies that have worked in the past may not work in the changed landscape. But with challenge comes innovation! From bottled cocktails to ready-to-make meal kits, eateries have proven their resilience during extraordinary circumstances. How can restaurants continue to build a sustainable brand that will be successful in a post-pandemic world?

    1. Make safety a top priority by demonstrating your commitment with PPE, physical dividers, and social distancing signage. Guests (and staff) need to feel confident that they are protected from exposure.
    2. One of the biggest challenges restaurants will face is the constant flow of people coming and going, especially while meeting limited seating capacity requirements. Investing in a virtual reservation system is a great way to guide visitors and analyze traffic patterns.
    3. Abandon traditional menus for wall murals and digital solutions to provide a contactless experience matching consumer trends. These touchless options will allow guests to explore the menu safely without the waste that reusable menus produce. 
    4. Customers are understandably reluctant to dine indoors, but as the fear subsides, restaurants must be prepared to take advantage of the pent-up demand. Leverage online channels to drive offline traffic by sharing high-quality visual content that showcase food, promotions, or behind-the-scenes operations.  Check out local Toronto coffee shop and ICON client, The Social Blend, for great examples on how they’ve been using social content and aesthetic print takeaways to drive online traffic.
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Sports & Entertainment

At ICON, we are passionate sports fans. We miss nothing more than the thrill of screaming alongside thousands of other enthusiasts. For the first time, players had to compete in eerily quiet arenas without the game-day atmosphere. Are people itching for shared experience or will post-pandemic anxiety keep them away from their seats? Teams will have to work harder to get people back in the stadium.

  1. Crowd management and distancing measures/PPE/player safety 
  2. Deliver engaging video footage that live-stream key moments or recap parts of an event that resonate with attendees. An evergreen piece of content can make the excitement last forever and create “FOMO” for prospective customers. Being discovered is great, but becoming a destination is a sustainable business strategy that creates long-term value. Don’t forget to include a great call-to-action whether it’s liking, sharing, or registering for your next event.
  3. Enhance the fan experience and create immersive environments by combining static display graphics with multi-purpose digital screens to better communicate offerings and revolutionize the way your event looks and feels. Being able to update information in real-time and present interactive information can transform the whole experience for participants while reducing material cost. It can also become a unique advertising opportunity for your sponsors who want dynamic branding in strategic, high-traffic areas. 

 

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Hospitality & Tourism

Although vaccines offer hope for the hospitality and tourism industry, it remains impossible to overstate the pandemic’s effect on domestic travel. Rebuilding traveller confidence and promoting hotel usage will take multiple strategic recovery efforts. Fortunately, advancements in marketing technology and increased interconnectedness of our community through social media provide opportunities. 

    1. Explore the potential of promotional campaigns through social media platforms and email newsletters to incentivize new and old customers. Content with great visual components increases reader retainment – this works especially well when video, text, and graphics are used in combination.
    2. There is no better time to take on cost-effective remodeling than right now. With hotels and attractions operating at below-optimal capacity, now is the chance to refresh lobbies or upgrade interiors with affordable options like 3M DI-NOC. This self-adhesive film offers infinite design possibilities for any surface with less downtime, labour, and waste. 
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Retail

The disruption of traditional retail began long before COVID-19, which has only accelerated the transformation. Emerging e-commerce trends forced businesses to reinvent in-store shopping and adopt omni-channel marketing strategies to stay competitive.

    1. Now more than ever, customers demand an efficient shopping experience where they can get in and out of the store as quickly as possible. Innovative technology like People Count and ICON Q manages occupancy and provides updated wait times to enhance the queueing experience
    2. E-commerce sales are at an all-time high across the retail sector. With people spending more time at home during (and even after) the pandemic, retailers must find a way to bridge the gap between e-commerce and brick & mortar retail. The Internet has spoiled shoppers by personalizing the shopping experience with bookmarks, cookies, and search histories to create a personalized and even interactive shopping experience. Users can pause their visit and pick up right where they left off hours, or even days, later at their own convenience. Using interactive technology, kiosks, and digital signage, brands can help bring that experience in-store. Retailers can give visitors the option to continue shopping online with the luxury of seeing the product in-person before making a final decision. Personalizing the shopping experience is a great way to incentivize people to come back in-store while maintaining the convenience of shopping online.
    3. Pop-up events and experiential marketing were at all-time highs before the pandemic – are they poised for a comeback? It is very likely that brands will continue to invest in interactive ads to deepen audience connection. After all, consumers want memories – not just products. Integrating hybrid events with influencer marketing or sponsorships can bring people together for meaningful shared experiences.
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Transportation 

The transportation industry will have to confront the reality and perception of safety in crowded cars, airplanes, and stations. There is an obvious shift in passenger priorities – marketing strategies need to be responsive to changes caused by global events. Adjustments in brand messaging and communicating cleanliness are ways to rethink transit.

 

    1. Since flexible working arrangements are likely to remain, the industry will be dependent on leisure travel to refuel recovery. At this point, nobody knows what’s going to happen. To anticipate and prepare for sudden changes in passenger demand, marketers need to go big with advertising to target fliers that are adventurous and eager to find new experiences.
    2. Improve the travel experience by incorporating digital signage that offer wayfinding and other on-demand services. It’s a great tool that can deal with two major stressors – travelers that feel unsure of where to go and an aesthetic option to an, otherwise, hectic and fast-paced environment. ICON’s work at Toronto Pearson International Airport is a great example to show how major transportation hubs have used unique designs with digital signage to increase engagement and improve the travel atmosphere. 
    3. If touching surfaces poses a risk, adopt alternative interactive technologies. RFID technology and gesture-based activations can trigger payments or individualized information while helping prevent the spread. Learn more about non-touch installations that can create targeted interactions with your guests.
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