What is brand repositioning?
Brand repositioning is not the same as rebranding.
Rebranding deconstructs the identity of a previously established brand to develop a new image that will promote positive conceptions in the public eye. Repositioning, on the other hand, maintains the identity of the brand but alters the way that it is perceived by consumers in the marketplace. Repositioning a brand will either shift its aims, personality, or the goods and/or services it provides customers to stay relevant to their needs.
A brand may seek to reposition for a variety of different reasons, such as a natural evolution of its product or service, a need to gain an advantage over competing companies, or a change in the interests or behaviors of the target consumers.
Why has the pandemic set the scene for repositioning?
As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the wants and needs of consumers have changed dramatically since the beginning of 2020.
With lockdowns, quarantines, and general social distancing measures enforced globally, the pandemic has seen a rise in stay-at-home living, with many isolating to prevent infection or further spreading of the virus. As many people work from home, homeschool children, and generally avoid social spaces, they have turned to digital spaces for services previously found in the physical world.
While a few companies have benefitted from the “new normal”, most business sectors have seen serious damage in the past two years. The decline in social interaction has been especially detrimental to the survival of brick-and-mortar businesses and those dependent on social interaction. With a completely new way of life, many successful businesses have found that the service they provide is no longer accessible to their consumers. As a result, many businesses have been left to either shift gears and adapt quickly with innovative repositioning strategies, or collapse under the weight of change.
For many brands, a pivot away from face-to-face interactions and into digital spaces has been the most profitable way to stay relevant.
Digitally native brands such as the online retailer Amazon, online workspaces such as Zoom, and food delivery apps like UberEats saw a profitable rise in customer engagement since the pandemic began. The pandemic has proven how vital digital businesses strategies are for companies to stay afloat going forward. According to McKinsey, most businesses will need to adopt digital business models if they wish to stay economically viable by 2023.
Dining in During Covid
For restaurants reliant on dine-in services to stay afloat, Covid-19 presented a big problem.
In the U.S. as many as 110,000 restaurants and drink establishments were forced to shut down in 2020 alone. However, many businesses were able to maintain profits through strategic repositioning, emphasizing delivery orders, ready-made meals, and D.I.Y meal kits. While customers were not able to experience the social and interactive ritual of dining out, new services were provided that were seriously needed during isolation: experimentation and fun. Meal kits especially provided customers with a learning experience, sometimes into other cultures, that broke the monotony of constant delivery and cooking well-worn staples. The Melbourne fine dining Japanese restaurant Akaito released a Sukiyaki meal-kit during lockdown in 2021.
Dating Goes Digital
In a pandemic where most people have been limited to socializing within their quarantine bubble, and hugging and shaking hands became taboo, going on dates with strangers was out of the question.
However, a 2021 study from Match shows that 74% of singles believed the pandemic did not negatively impact their dating life. Websites such as Tinder and Bumble have managed to successfully stay relevant during two years of social distancing by rolling out in-app video calling features that kept people dating from the safety of their own homes. Instead of focusing on face-to-face dating and physical intimacy, these sites pivoted toward digital dating, highlighting the importance of personal connections and combatting loneliness during isolation. Considering that many people believe video calling builds comfort and emotional connection, digital dating features will likely continue to be relevant in the post-pandemic era.
Gyms as a hybrid space
Unable to open its doors, the fitness sector has had to reshape the role it plays in its customers' lives. During the pandemic, many gyms and yoga studios began running live video workout classes and fitness sessions.
Whether one-on-one or in group classes, these sessions allow exercisers to access the social and interactive aspect of gym-going that separates it from solo home workouts. According to Businesswire, 82% of Millenials and 76% of Gen Z say they have taken up working out at home during the pandemic, and 66% of all age groups say they prefer it to going to the gym. Digital sessions allow people to choose from endless choices of workouts and group-fitness classes from the convenience of their own homes. While many still prefer going to the gym, customers will likely continue seeking a hybrid of digital and physical experiences from their gyms.
Learning From Pandemic Pivots
Going forward, businesses must take into account the changes in consumer behaviors and interests that have become apparent in the last two years.
The trend toward eCommerce and online business models began before 2020, but as digital businesses have proven resilient under the pandemic’s duress, these strategies are more important than ever for long-term success. Even as vaccinations have become commonplace, it seems unlikely that the trend toward remote work will go away any time soon, nor will consumers' preference for digital businesses. Investing in digital repositioning cannot be a bandaid to continue profits during the pandemic. Companies must account for the changes in consumers' preferences when forming long-term business strategies in the post-pandemic era.