How Retailers Can Make Sales in a COVID Market 

Whether people are shopping for school clothes and supplies, or non-necessities like luxury cars or handbags, consumers want to shop. Now. But shopping doesn’t look the way it once did, thanks to COVID-19. How can retailers make sales in a COVID market? We have some ideas . . .

Despite what people are shopping for, one thing remains consistent in both regular retail and luxury industries: People want to feel safe, and shop with brands that are respecting their personal and emotional needs.

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In this article, we’ll explore:

  • How monitoring and analyzing emerging trends gives your business ways to connect
  • What consumers are saying about retail; what’s driving them to feel this way; and, why it matters
  • Examples of brands doing these things right and driving results

And here are some retail stats to spark your interest:

  • By 2040, 95% of retail purchases will be done through ecommerce
  • By 2025, online luxury sales will increase 3x to $91B
  • By 2025, 20% of luxury sales will be done online

Market Intelligence Insight for Evolving Opportunities

It’s no secret that the retail landscape has changed dramatically over the last 6 months. And as things seem to be changing almost daily, it’s no surprise that these shifts and fears have remained a hot topic with the press:


When using consumer and market intelligence tools like NetBase Quid to explore this network of topics, a majority of these clusters fall into two trends:

  1. How coronavirus has threatened the retail business
  2. How brick & mortar retail stores are trying to make a come back


And there are a ton of overlapping conversations found in both – spanning what stores are doing to take precautions to ensure safety to how they are working to bounce back financially. The concerns found in these cluster trends are related, but offer distinct insight that can influence the way you decide to market your brand. And when looking at a timeline view of the network, it’s quick work to identify trends that are emerging and those that are receding from view.

In this case, the teal color represents a cluster of articles related to safer shopping experiences, which is something consistently on many consumers’ minds as they start to get back to some sort of normalcy. And the threat coronavirus has on shopping malls and brick and mortar stores seems to be slowly phasing out (represented by the purple cluster). But watching to see what August brings will be important, as we’re still in early days there.


Digging in a little further, we can compare “regular” retail shopping to luxury retail, and explore just how different those trends look.

Watching Outliers for Emerging Trends

Much of the network map contains clusters of stories related to how luxury retail is rethinking their futures (some even digitally) in a post-Covid world. Another big trend seen here is how these luxury retailers worked to remain top of mind during the pandemic by giving back in numerous ways.

But it’s the small clusters that aren’t connected to anything else in the network that we need to focus on for our emerging trends.


These clusters contain stories that may not be getting picked up a ton by the media just yet, but are outliers that could go either way. In this case, for example, it could be wise for competing brands to pay close attention to what Saks Fifth Avenue has plans to do. Reimagining its buying and merchandising approach could have a ripple effect. Time will tell.

Beyond capturing emerging trends though, it’s important to capture a complete psychographic understanding of consumers. And NetBase Enterprise helps with that!

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Consumer Intelligence for Psychographic Understanding

When looking at the conversation happening on social media surrounding luxury retail, the sentiment leans more positive than it does negative. Why? People seem pleased with how the future is unfolding for luxury:

social-sentiment-around-luxury post-covid-consumer-sentiment-via-tweet

Many people are optimistic about the future of the luxury retail industry, and should be. But success is never guaranteed, particularly not today. Brands need to dig in and understand what drives consumers’ attitudes, behaviors, interests, etc. They can do this by exploring sentiment expressed about the industry, visually presented in word clouds:


And by exploring consumers’ social mood about given categories to benchmark how they feel about things from week to week (or day to day):


Many retailers are doing this already and getting it right! Here are a few.

Retailers Getting It Right

One retailer that is leading by example with not only social listening, but industry listening as a whole, is Bath and Body Works.

They are using their platforms to promote relevant products while answering common consumer questions tied to said products during a global pandemic. Like in this post promoting hand sanitizers and including CDC information within their copy:


Target did something similar, while forming an emotional connection by humanizing their brand and encouraging the community to thank the frontline workers dealing with COVID-19.


And luxury brands are stepping forward as well, of course.

Louis Vuitton turned their production line into a mask making site, while Loreal dug into what their audience was talking about and released a series of social media videos with instructions on how to color your hair at home (during, and after a pandemic of course!).

These examples and the corresponding consumer engagement it created, shows how impactful campaigns can be when brands are in tune with their industry, competitors and consumers. COVID sales are certainly possible, more so than ever online actually – but it hinges on putting out the right messaging at the right time – and on the right channel!

Consumer and marketing intelligence is the key to unlocking it all. Reach out and we’ll show it in action!


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