The challenges of bundling retail offerings post-pandemic

By John A. Deighton

May 5, 2021

Dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic has forced consumers into new patterns of behavior. Brands and retailers face the challenge of understanding and planning for those behavior patterns that will change and those that will persist. They also have to plan to facilitate the behavior changes they want and discourage the less desirable constructive changes. Some of these behavior patterns were sources of irritation and frustration—like wearing a mask for some people—and others taught us to want and like different things that become sources of joy and satisfaction—like spending more time on hobbies and with pets and family.
So, to anyone marketing to the shopper, the challenge is two-fold:

1. You need to understand consumer behavior and recognize the role of bundles.

The fact is, these patterns don't come in discrete entities. They come in bundles of good and bad. Once understood, the marketers need to redesign the bundle to support the behaviors they want and discourage those they don't want. For instance, an employee might like working in an office with co-workers but dislike the commute. However, the employee can't have the first piece without the second part. So now the design challenge is to see if there are ways to preserve the good aspects and compensate for the negatives. Grocery shopping is another excellent example. I did a project in the early days of home-delivered groceries. Working with an early entrant, some colleagues and I studied 20 people who were early sign-ups for the home delivery service, and we met with them once a quarter for a year. The early adopters thought that they didn't like supermarkets and couldn't fit them into their lives. Some people were so busy that they felt grocery delivery is a real win. After some time, it was astonishing to find out that almost all defected from home delivery and returned to in-store grocery shopping. There was always an event that took them back into a supermarket. And when they got into the supermarket, they realized what they'd missed. One of them said, "I went into the store, and I smelled the fresh baked cookies. And I enjoyed looking at the beautiful produce. I had forgotten what I was missing. And at that point, I could no longer put together a large enough order to justify staying with home delivery." I think that's a relatable experience, and I'm sure if we dig a bit deeper into the behavior, we will find that there are parts of the store that people are pretty happy to see and parts they prefer they never have to deal with again.
2.你需要重新考虑你的产品或分类to enhance the positive aspects while reimagining or adjusting the negative elements.
For instance, the home-delivery grocery service can be broken down into two parts: The terrific bits and the bits that are frustrating and then find a way to routinize the delivery. I'd be happy to let the home delivery people supply me with laundry detergent and paper towels or use an outlet, but I'd prefer to buy my fresh produce from the grocery store. This puzzle brings up other questions like the ideal assortment that a retailer should carry or the role of impulse purchases as a powerful sales driver. Another example is companies having to rethink package sizes. Customers may be more likely to buy multi-packs of smaller individual servings (e.g., wine, dips, etc.) rather than a larger single-serve package, reflecting the new way of socializing in smaller groups.
Determining your company's direction and investments post-COVID will likely be challenging due to the unpredictable ways consumer behavior is evolving. Pre-pandemic, the playbook was pretty well defined: identify your target segments, identify the consumption occasions, arrive at the right combination of packaging, promotion, and pricing (charge a premium where possible, and show value for money where needed). That playbook is now scrambled. For example, what a consumer is willing to pay more for might be different today than pre-pandemic. It is hard to predict what your target segment will respond more to in their current mental state; is it price, convenience, selection, or brand? The pace, length, and steadiness of the recovery will likely impact customer behaviors profoundly. The strategies and decisions are likely to look very different a month from now, a quarter from now, and ayear from now –which means that thriving in this next normal will require a great deal of resiliency and continuous performance management.

Anaplan knows how to help you navigate these uncertain times.

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