A vaccine is on its way and whether you’re a skeptic or will be first in line, you can’t deny it’s nice to finally see some glimmers of normal life flickering out on the horizon.

The markets certainly thought so anyway, with global share prices continuing to surge in December on the latest vaccine announcements; luxury stocks including Burberry, LVMH and Kering have been particular winners.

The news is also likely to spur on more of the unexpected brand innovations we’ve seen this year: here in the UK, frozen food supermarket Iceland are in talks with the government over helping to store the vaccine.

 

Boris Vaccine
Supermarket Iceland could help the British government to store the vaccine.

 

One of the stand-out lessons from 2020 for brands is that loyalty has been proven cheap – and this year has been a huge opportunity to win new fans.

A recent Bazaarvoice study found that 39% of respondents globally tried new brands this year, and 83% will continue to buy from newly discovered brands.

And in the upcoming holiday season, McKinsey reports that more than half of US consumers plan to shop at different retailers than last year, with value and safety more important than familiarity to most.

 

78% of US consumers have changed stores, brands, or the way they shop in 2020.

– McKinsey Survey

This shift has caused many brands to reassess the best ways to engage consumers through loyalty-based initiatives, with some starting to move away from size-of-wallet-based metrics.

The Vans Family app awards points for interacting with in-app brand content, which can then be traded in exchange for limited edition products.

In a similar vein, Burberry’s Social Store in Shenzhen is powered by a WeChat Mini Program, on which you unlock new aspects of the store – such as a secret menu in the Thomas Burberry Cafe – the more you interact with the brand.

Reebok’s partnership with thredUP fits the trend too, giving customers loyalty points for turning in secondhand Reebok clothes.

 

“38% of consumers are keen to acquire brand credit with actions outside of buying products, for example writing reviews or interacting with social accounts.”

– DotDigital Report: Hitting the Mark

 

It’s not just value that’s been high on consumer shopping lists though, but convenience too, with a sharp uptake in subscription services this year.

In the UK, 37% of adults signed up to at least one new subscription this year and 72% intend on continuing those subscriptions post-lockdown.

And brands may now begin to pay more attention to the pay-monthly model as an answer to the loyalty conundrum.

Coffee and sandwich chain Pret a Manger just launched their first subscription offer, with customers able to claim five drinks per day for just £20 per month.

Pret christmas drinks

“Loyalty isn’t just about getting customers to spend more, it’s about building a community of advocates that share your values.”
– Green Room CCO, Mike Roberts

It’s impossible to say exactly what the future holds, but one thing looks increasingly certain: brands and retailers need to be way more agile.

In our report on pop-up retail, we explore some of the biggest opportunities for brands to use temporary formats to engage consumers in the new retail world.

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