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By looking at the details of each region’s situation, we can carefully target shoppers using niche messaging we know will resonate

With the recent announcements of stricter Covid-19 measures and regional lockdowns, running tone-appropriate and real-time, relevant communications is becoming increasingly complicated. Gone are the good old days when a nationwide campaign based on a clever cultural insight could win shoppers over.

With the country being more divided both in terms of virus measures and attitudes toward the pandemic, it’s a tough balance to achieve for brands and retailers. Pick the wrong tone, and risk a social media riot. Pick the safe tone, and be lost in a sea of media and comms. More than ever, we need clever and tight geo-targeting – the harmonious triangle of right place, right time, right message.

Over the next few weeks and months, restrictions are going to sporadically tighten and loosen, with none of us able to predict when and where this might be. With such uncertainty in the media landscape, it’s hard to judge what the common behavioural patterns of shoppers may be at any time.

While we can assume that the rest of the year looks like it will be spent indoors, airways, borders and front doors may reopen at any minute. However, one variable in this storm remains constant: whatever happens, shoppers will be visiting supermarkets, both in-store and online.

Which means that your new best friend is, or should be, geo-targeted media in proximity to these supermarkets, or geo-targeting to shoppers in specific areas. When we know the rather unique and very specific details of each region’s situation, we can carefully target using niche messaging we know will resonate. These types of messaging can range from witty and tongue-in-cheek to very simple and helpful advice.

Take loo roll, for example. In March the product flooded our news feeds as shoppers piled trolleys high with the white stuff. Now, using geo-targeted media shoppers can be informed by their favourite toilet paper brand that, “we have lots of paper in stock here, please shop responsibly”. This type of messaging and targeting in an area stuck in strict lockdown immediately provides a sense of calm and control to shoppers who previously grabbed rolls by the hundreds at the slightest whiff of a shortage. Or take tinned tomatoes – knowing we’re forced to cook meals from scratch at home during lockdowns, we’d welcome some relevant messaging with stock updates and scrumptious recipe inspiration from our favourite Italian brands.

Retailers, too, can take full advantage of geo-targeting. In Liverpool, where bars and pubs are currently shut, retailers could inform and inspire local shoppers with inspiration on how to make their favourite takeaway meals, or could bring to life simple serving suggestions for drinks at home.

Being hyper-targeted with hyper-relevance is the only way to effectively reach shoppers during our current wave of Covid. New channels have more flexibility than more traditional shopper media platforms, offering opportunities to be reactive, appropriate and empathetic to the current circumstances we face.