• Play Retail Ltd.

Design vs. Covid-19

Updated: May 7

The coronavirus pandemic has had, and is still having, a huge impact on designers and the design

industry across the world. Brands of all sizes are having to adapt their business strategies in an

attempt to tackle the uncertainty of COVID-19.


What are brands doing now?


As stocks of hand sanitiser and its constituent ingredients have run low across Europe, Alcohol brands such as; UK brewery BrewDog, Deeside Distillery, Verdant Spirits and cosmetic brands such as; LVMH have all repurposed their factories to begin production of the antiviral gel.



Meanwhile, Prada, Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton are among the leading luxury fashion brands that are repurposing their manufacturing warehouses to produce surgical face masks in response to the shortage caused by COVID-19. Barbour has also begun producing PPE garments from their South Shields factory to support the local NHS Trusts in the fight against COVID-19.



“In challenging times, we must pull together. The whole team at Burberry is very proud to be able to support those who are working tirelessly to combat COVID-19, whether by treating patients, working to find a vaccine solution or helping provide food supplies to those in need at this time. COVID-19 has fundamentally changed our everyday lives, but we hope that the support we provide will go some way towards saving more lives, bringing the virus under control and helping our world recover from this devastating pandemic. Together, we will get through this.” - Marco Gobbetti, CEO, Burberry


How can retail design adapt?


In-store retail environments have changed forever. However, shoppers will eventually return. Now we must encourage innovative solutions to accommodate new shopping behaviours, with the hope to entice consumers back in-store.



COVID-19 is accelerating the transformation of attitudes within physical retail environments towards more digital solutions rather than relying on bricks and mortar. Social media has essentially been prepping the world for 'social distancing' unfortunately, humans aren't built for little to no interaction with one another.


E-commerce will continue to be reserved for buying essentials, and we will see an increase of use from older generations, whom most of which will continue to use after the pandemic. However,

the millennial consumer still demands an in-store experience. They will still want to be immersed by brands and it is the brand's responsibility to build a level of trust, ensure safety, demonstrate shared values and create store experiences which help anchor these core principles.


What does success look like?


Expectation for authenticity - Consumers will reward brands that “do the right thing” during this crisis. That means being honest, valuing people over profits, and using resources for the greater good. What happens to brands after this pandemic will be heavily influenced by what they did during it.



Social distancing - Consumers will have a heightened sensitivity to our mutual vulnerability and the role we play in keeping everyone healthy. Environments will have an ongoing expectation to be clean and simple, and we may have a different sense of our personal space. COVID-19 will definitely have an impact on how we feel about crowds and tight spaces and how quickly we can sanitise our hands after touching multi-use elements, such as payment systems.



New experiences - Brands will need to be reactive and ready to deliver new experiences that are optimistic, entertaining, and fresh to combat the ‘gloom’ of lockdown. After being in isolation for weeks and months, consumers will want to make themselves feel better and have a fresh start with their favourite brands.



Digital Drive - Social distancing will drive more consumers to e-commerce, digital platforms such as Ocado, Amazon, Deliveroo etc. Generations who have never used these services will adopt to these new behaviours during this pandemic and will continue to use them once lockdown is over.



Companies that play the long game will benefit. What brands and retailers should aim to achieve is to bring a sense of structure and calm to their in-store environments and develop their online

experiences to retain loyal customers. A focus should be on what can happen in the remainder of 2020 with the intention to set up for a strong start to 2021.


Our creative team are working with our clients to create digital experiences and retail solutions to

adapt to the new shopping behaviours of consumers in 2020. If your business requires extra support to navigate the impact of Covid-19, or to just think ‘outside the box’ please get in touch with anna@play-retail.com

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