Location Sciences Group – Verify

Convenience and product availability are critical to maintain brand loyalty

The Corona Virus has quickly changed our daily lives and most likely for the foreseeable future. Many are living and working in new dynamics that have challenged where they work and how they travel. Similarly, brands are changing their service models as their ability to generate revenue now depends on offering customers a convenient and safe way to buy.

The Virus is showing how pivotal human movement is to maintain a thriving economy.

Roughly 90% of location based businesses rely on in-store purchases.  A reminder, at least for now, “moving” people into stores is still the number 1 revenue generator for most brick-and-mortar based businesses.

The challenging aspect of this fact, in today’s world, is that “movement” has come under duress.  Not only has consumer movement decreased due to federal, local, and self imposed mandates, but movement has also changed…it has evolved and will continue to do so.

The visitor to a local Wendy’s or Kroger in the last 3 weeks has more often than not been by an UberEats driver, Instacart driver or a local postal worker who lives and works, within 5 miles of the store, not 15 miles.  Working from home and social distancing have changed how we “move” in and out of the restaurants and grocery stores we buy from – as essential businesses.

These changes raise new questions for the food and grocery business about how to deliver against two of consumers’ most important buying considerations:

  1. Convenience
  2. Service and Loyalty

 Convenience:

  • With some delivery drivers reporting 30-50 rides per day, it’s safe to assume most of these deliveries are occurring within closer proximity and radius to local stores. This starts to put a new pressure on food/grocery readiness, and speed to customer demand – but within tighter local corridors that rely on convenience and access as movement is restricted.
  • The changing dynamics of working from home and social distancing have also shifted eating and dining schedules. Pizza night isn’t just Fridays anymore.  Learning more about the ordering and drive thru behaviors of hyper local customers has taken on an entirely new meaning.  The battle for local LTO and sale offers become even more important for timely local delivery to ensure a chance to win the battle of convenience and awareness.

Service and Loyalty

  • While some of the Austin residents in zip code 78703 may prefer to visit the local Whole Foods on Lamar Blvd, the Randall’s on 35th St has a delivery slot available and is actually stocked with the Chobani yogurt the kids love. Simple dynamics like product and delivery availability start to replace what we’ve come to know as “loyalty”.  Loyalty to brands of course still exist, but emphasis on servicing the hyper local needs and behaviors of your customers have heightened sensitivity during these times.

There is a major opportunity for many food and grocery brands to build a long lasting and winning strategy that takes into account the changing dynamics of local behavior.

  1. A new loyalty – Leveraging technology partners to provide deeper insight into pre/during/and possibly post COVID-19 to understand the dynamics of your customer purchase habits. The insight can play a critical role in outlining a newly evolved segmentation strategy for maintaining historic loyalists, but maintaining relationships with customers that have become more in tune with your service in these unconventional times.
  2. Convenience as a message – Now more than ever, the lead message for local QSR, fine dining, and grocery may not be % off, but product availability, how to access, and where to access. Making the purchase process easy for essential goods like food, toilet paper, soap, and diapers can be the key differentiator in winning business that day, hour, or minute.  Localizing this thought process considering travel and access limitations is critical.

As exciting as these opportunities are, they go awry if the data informing both the media and audience delivery is inaccurate or fraudulent.  Having the confidence that the location data available to marketers serving essential goods to customers, is accurate and reliable can have a critical impact not only on the current state of play, but the long term strategic opportunities available for future local marketing leadership.

Leveraging a third party to help provide a clear and transparent understanding of these critical insights can prove invaluable as we all look to the future.