Trade comms 2.0 – the future is digital; the future is now!

17 November 2020

In our world of 24/7 social media and online ordering, trade communications continues to reinvent itself and remains as important as ever in getting your message to the customer.

2020 has seen extraordinary growth in digital media due to the coronavirus restrictions. Ofcom’s Online Nation report shows UK adults currently spend a quarter of their waking day online - 50 minutes a day more than 2018 - and trade communications is actively future-proofing itself by embracing the technology.

With national and local lockdowns reducing social contact this year, using digital technology to stay in touch and access up to date information has become crucial. Social media has gained new importance and nowhere more so than convenience retailing.

We recently partnered with Newtrade Media and KAM Media to commission Convenience Connections, a report on what life after lockdown will look like for independent retailers and how brands should be communicating with this channel.

With some publications moving to digital-only in 2020, our research shows independent retailers increasingly look to digital for their news but still refer to printed magazines for category advice. The message is that print media remains a core part of the mix, with many titles evolving their print editions’ focus and purpose to compliment the digital pages.

Independent retailers are increasingly expert in social media, as reported in RN’s recent article on the fortnightly #RetailTogether event. Top retailers have been using Facebook and Instagram for years to engage local customers with community news, giveaways, competitions and charity stories about resolved issues.

This activity has established these retailer influencers as important figures in their local community, who also command respect from their colleagues, among whom peer to peer advocacy is a lead driver for purchase decisions.

Retailers also use ‘social’ to air their grievances. The supply chain disruptions in the first lockdown saw those deprived of stock from major suppliers venting their frustration on Twitter. After such incidents, repairing relationships and trust needs time and sensitivity. As an agency, we are well placed to help clients navigate their communication to customers to rebuild goodwill and positive feelings about brands.

The key is to be open and honest with your agency about challenges and opportunities to turn negative into positive. If we’re fully briefed on your objectives and what may already be happening, we can work with you to create a strategic plan and prepare for any adverse feedback.

Another important area where we can help is advocacy. A recent example, the Sugar Levy has made marketers address the sugar content of food and drink products. As we showed with our recent blog, Be Straight about sugar, much of our work isn’t about winning the debate and trouncing the opposition. It’s about the long game - understanding what people are saying about your product and where these notions came from, and addressing and replying to them while building relationships with these audiences.

Returning to social media, in an exciting recent development, C-Talk is a new multimedia platform created by retailers for retailers, giving access to a growing online community of independent retailers. Founder Paul Cheema is Nisa’s ‘Retailer of the Year’ 2020.

Trade marketers still need to convey clear messages to their target audiences, just as when we started. We can help you do this using the trade press and social media, including emerging platforms like C-Talk, and the rest of the trade communications toolkit to address challenges, build your profile and engage your target audiences. Welcome to Tradecomms 2.0!

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