As the ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ scheme comes to an end, figures from the first 3 weeks show that Britons used the scheme over 64 million times. This staggering number accounts for people who have moved their chosen evening out to earlier in the week and those who would not otherwise have gone out. The offer has represented a real change in the UK’s restaurant behaviour; OpenTable, the online reservations platform, reported a 61% rise in Mon-Weds bookings vs 2019. This spending takes place against the backdrop of the worst UK recession since records began. Therefore it seems strange that consumers are so keen to spend their disposable income. However, the lipstick effect helps explain this phenomenon and provides an opportunity for brands to offer real value to consumers through this difficult period.
For those who have not come across the lipstick effect before, it is an economic theory that suggests a reduction in big-ticket luxury expenditure in times of a recession leads to an uplift in small ticket luxury expenditure. This explains why people are looking for affordable ways to treat themselves. ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ aligned the core aspects of the theory – treat and low price point – and combined them with ease of use to create value in the mind of the consumer.
As we’ve been confined to home for large portions of 2020, treat has become synonymous with being out and about, and with holidays less accessible than they once were, eating out is filling this gap for the time being. the7stars quarterly tracker of UK adults, highlighted this month that Brits are planning to spend less on long holidays (24%) and short breaks (22%), while 8% plan to spend more on eating-out and takeaways in the year ahead. Food is, in fact, the only surveyed category that has seen an increase in plans to spend. Nonetheless, price, offers and deals are the most important factors reported for grocery selection over the next six months. It stands to reason that this price sensitivity effects their out-of-home food choices too, with the government framing the ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ scheme as a saving representing a powerful, time limited offer of value to consumers.
In combining high value propositions with messaging that speaks to the current moment, brands can steer consumer behaviour as they start to look for small luxuries. Recent research from TVSquared demonstrated that TV ads explicitly mentioning the Coronavirus Crisis are three times more likely to resonate with viewers. What that ‘value’ is for a brand will depend on the price sensitivity of their target audience, but combining this messaging with products that are considered an indulgence is an impactful way to acknowledge the challenging times we face and enable consumers feel good about treating themselves to life’s smaller luxuries this year.
If you are looking to become more ethical when it comes to your fashion footprint, then renting might just be the way forward. During the last 10 years social media has become more ubiquitous in consumers’ lives, combined with fast moving trends. This has given rise to this new rental market, beyond the previous wedding suit and fancy dress market. So instead of purchasing a new outfit for a wedding, you now have the possibility to rent the latest season’s fashion instead. During 2019, Bloomberg called renting clothes “the future of fashion“. It was predicted that the online clothing rental market could offer average returns of almost 11% between 2019 and 2023.
However, this was all before the pandemic. With so many of these key occasions now on pause, increasing concerns around hygiene, and consumers retreating to loungewear, meant the future of the fashion rental market started to look decidedly bleak. UK based fashion rental platform Hurr Collective told Vogue in May 2020 how the demand has definitely fallen in their sector since people were no longer were going to events, coupled with sanitation concerns.
Yet, could there now be change on the horizon for the future of fashion rental? Looking at Google trends data from the last year, it is evident that the clothing rental market took a predictable hit during the pandemic; however, there are already some positive signs that the sector is recovering, with the search terms creeping up again. Furthermore the drive to make the fashion industry a more ecologically responsible, greener and a less impactful industry has not gone away. It accounts for 10% of global emissions and 20% of waste water. To put that in perspective, fashion uses more energy globally than both aviation and shipping combined.
Recently, a number of brands have made efforts to address these issues and try to encourage consumers to rent rather than buy, in spite of the on-going pandemic.
Brands such as Levi’s who have teamed up with Danish brand Ganni to create a capsule collection for Ganni Repeat, a “rental platform that’s trying to create a more circular fashion system and help people rethink how they consume fashion”. This rental-only collection is a first for both brands.
Meanwhile, Selfridges has launched its first ever in-house rental collection in partnership with Hurr Collective. After a successful pop-up concession, it has now become a permanent fixture within the store. This is part of their new sustainability pledge, ‘Project Earth’, with the store changing the way we shop by addressing the environmental impact of materials and production methods used in products, launching a repair and resell retail model and working with customers to try and shift mindsets to become more earth friendly.
With so many uncertainties and people becoming increasingly risk adverse when it comes to their health, it is evident that the pandemic has had a negative effect on the demand for clothing and the clothing rental idea, in particular. Yet we have started to see a glimmer of interest again across this sector with the easing of lockdown measures. It will be interesting to see how this market reacts and evolves in the coming year.
- The Future of Fashion Is a Rented Dress
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This weekend saw the UK PM announce further measures to tackle UK obesity. These measures include a pre-watershed TV and digital advertising ban, with further measures- a permanent digital ban and limits on promotions for unhealthy foods- still being reviewed.
Following the 1962 Molony report findings that problematic advertising should be “tackled by effectively applied voluntary controls”, the government have allowed the ASA, Ofcom, et al, to be responsible for ensuring standards are upheld. However, public health concerns have necessitated some government imposed regulations across categories seen to present potential issues. A blanket ban on cigarette advertising, and prescriptive ABV ranges for ‘low alcohol’ drinks are two such measures. Now, with 64% of the population overweight, advertising restrictions on HFSS products- introduced in 2010 and extended in 2017- have sought to combat this trend.
The new measures have actually been kicking around for some time in one form or another. David Cameron was set to introduce them in 2016, before Brexit stopped him in his tracks. Theresa May then abandoned the plans before a change of heart two years later when health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, started consultation on the measures. This too ceased when Theresa May’s time in No.10 came to an end. With the current PM previously declaring his views of tackling obesity to be “libertarian” many felt these measures would flounder once more. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has again thrown the nation’s health into the spotlight; evidence that being overweight is one of the biggest “co-morbidity factors” meant that Boris Johnson’s hands were somewhat tied.
Caroline Bovey, Chair of the British Dietetic Association, describes obesity as “a complex disease with many contributing factors” and adds that “any policy approach must take account of all of them”. If the challenge is so broad, how much impact can the advertising ban have itself? Not very much, is the answer offered by the Advertising Association who cited the Government’s own research that identified that the 9pm ban will only reduce children’s intake by 1.7 calories per day and have warned against the measure. Dame Carolyn McCall, chief exec at ITV, added that there is evidence that a wider ban on all ads between 5.30am and 9pm would have next to no impact on childhood obesity.
However, Sir John Hegarty, disagrees with the anti-regulatory call from the AA and others, stating advertising has “responsibilities beyond just selling us things” and that we “must be seen [as] a valuable partner in an evolving society”. He suggests that whilst the ban itself may not have a huge impact; the pressure it puts on manufacturers to produce healthier alternatives they can advertise makes the ban a worthwhile endeavour. The issue will continue to be debated publicly as we see the impact these measures have on the nation’s health in both the short and longer term.
It is safe to say that 2020 has presented itself in a way no one expected it to. We have witnessed what seems all but certain to be a historical and paradigm shifting moment in an already illustrious history of mankind.
Lockdown has helped change our viewpoints on how our fates are linked but also how we tackle our work life and the role technology plays within it. For instance pre-COVID, the use of virtual meetings such as Google hangouts were seen as instruments for remote working during special circumstances. A lot of businesses viewed remote working as inaccessible for their line of work. In 2019, only 30% of UK employees worked from home. However since lockdown took place, it was reported that 49% of the UK workforce were working from home (in April) – almost 20% more than the whole of 2019 – bringing in a new era of working. Despite this massive change, productivity of work output has not lapsed as some thought. The success of this has been led by the use of collaborative, shared based working solutions such as Google Drive, Dropbox and Microsoft Office 365 to allow people to work and chat on the same documents, spreadsheets and projects all at once.
Ironically, the social distancing measures have called for less individualism and greater stress of community. An article written by Eric Klinenberg outlines that the pandemic would call for us to “reconsider who we are and what we value…”. This should also resonate with brands. As society begins to rebuild and build new structures (as seen with the working from home example), brands have the opportunity to cement their names within these times; much like Disney during the Great Depression by bringing smiles at a time of economical turmoil. The trick was to not neglect the things that were happening, but to rather show how their brand could see a way out of it, by either revolutionising their industry or depicting some sort of escapism. In Disney’s case, it was both. Some event firms have already begun doing this, with the likes of Notting Hill Carnival announcing online performances for people to enjoy whilst obeying social distancing measures from their homes.
This change in environment and success of remote working also means saved time on stretched out commuting (the7stars QT showed that 19% of people are going to miss the time saved not commuting during lockdown) and has enabled workers to be simultaneously ‘at their desk’ or ‘in a meeting’ at the single press of the button. This shift opens the door to more people being able to do jobs they wouldn’t have previously been able to (i.e. new parents and those who are caretakers), which in turn increases diversity along with helping the battle with Carbon Dioxide emissions.
Without a doubt society has been called to rethink its many structures as a result of COVID. However, there is a sense of opportunity and optimism here, as with any fallen building lies the opportunity for another building or something completely different to rise.
On the 6th July, nine advertisers took part in turning their OOH ads in Piccadilly Circus upside down for the day. In collaboration with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), all ads on the big screen were flipped to raise awareness for the difficulty that blind people have faced as a result of COVID-19 measures. RNIB in collaboration with The & Partnership aimed to encourage kindness and empathy towards blind or partially sighted people who rely heavily on touch and human contact, and so have been heavily affected by social distancing.
COVID-19 has made more people than ever go the extra mile to care for others, with over a million people having volunteered to help the NHS and charity groups since the start of lockdown. Our QT data shows that 3 in 4 have confidence in the NHS, compared to many other institutions (e.g. the UK political institution) which have negative confidence. Mass recruitment of volunteers has not been seen at this level since World War II, and has brought people closer together, both in their families and communities. However despite the surge in altruism, charities across the country are struggling; 9 out of 10 will struggle to meet their fundraising objectives this year. This collaboration with RNIB demonstrates that brands have the opportunity to take control of their own social responsibility and power to help, at a time when it has never been more relevant.
In spite of Covid-19, social responsibility is still high on the agenda for multiple brands. Papa John’s partnered with the Trussell Trust to donate money from meal deal pizza orders to food banks around the country to feed families affected by the pandemic. In addition, Iceland proved how important wildlife causes are to the business and its customers, through adopting the penguins at the UK’s largest charity zoo, Chester Zoo. Last but not least, The Body Shop has partnered up with NO MORE – a charity fighting against domestic violence – to create their ‘Isolated Not Alone’ campaign to highlight and combat the rise of domestic violence cases during lockdown.
Amidst the uncertainty, anxiety and dread of COVID-19, the shining hope is that our continuous support as a nation for the NHS and for members of the community who need it most has created a greater atmosphere for kindness and support of one another. The more brands engage with this and demonstrate their own social responsibility authentically and effectively, the stronger resonance and connection they will create with consumers when they look back on the turbulent year that was 2020.
“Super Saturday” saw the eagerly anticipated reopening of hairdressers, bars, restaurants and the holiest of British establishments – the pub. With audiences slowly and tentatively returning to some aspects of “normality”, we’re now in the midst of mass habit forming moments. This can be a great opportunity for brands looking to gain customers via changed behaviour.
This weekend’s allowed openings were caveated with government advice on how to make an inherently social space as socially distant as possible. The new rules created uncertainty of what to expect from the experience. This combined with existing caution created over the past 100 days led to a modest turnout. Records show a c.35% increase in footfall week-on-week though this is still around 50% less than usual Saturday footfall.
With Super Saturday out the way, Brits who have been waiting and watching will gradually head back to the boozer . 1 in 3 Brits have been looking forward to things getting back to normal, and these are the ones likely to be making the most of restrictions being lifted. Others will be influenced by the behaviour of others, mimicking what they think is the social norm. By reflecting this herd mentality, brands can align with the national mood.
Tapping into collective consciousness is always a powerful way to build brands; during the “Christmas ad” moment advertisers have learnt, successfully, to mirror the nation’s emotional mindset. The return of the pub is a similar opportunity for brands. It provides a sense of connection with others, a moment of time and occasion. IPA research Lemon demonstrates that appealing to these more holistic right-brained attributes makes advertising more effective.
This week, our client South Western Railway launched a partnership with Global Radio which encourages Brits to celebrate the local businesses they missed during lockdown. Providing a platform for the re-opening of establishments on their network gives SWR a reason to speak to audiences about their destinations in a relevant way as audiences reconsider their leisure habits.
By staggering the relaxation of lockdown, the government has inadvertently created a shared calendar for the country. Brands that can tap into this evolving emotional progression will prove they are in touch with their current consumers, whilst providing a reassuring presence for future consumers once they’re ready.
Lightbox Pulse, May 2020