02 February 2021   

10 minute read
Maintaining an engaged community, supporting retailers and fostering a COVIDSafe retail environment were all part of our on-the-run marketing strategies in 2020. The most extraordinary year fostered new plans and protocols, which have provided a springboard for future growth, building initiatives on top of platforms that work.

Even before the virus had hit our shores, bushfires and subsequent flash flooding had already devastated millions of Australians. Then, the global pandemic hit. And it hardly begun when we initiated a pivot marketing strategy to deal with the challenges it presented. Practicality meant a lot needed to happen, quickly.

 

Our centres communicated key health and safety messages, including calls to observe hygiene and social distancing protocols. By year’s end, more than 18,500 decals had been applied throughout our centres, hand sanitisers proliferated, with more than 10,000 litres dispensed. And we backed our own work up with handbooks for our retailer partners to help them cope with the holistic requirements of COVIDSafe centres. Also of note was a series of hygiene videos featuring Miguel Maestre, on social distancing, supporting retailers, hand washing and shopping etiquette. This complemented additional video content communicating our in-centre hygiene measures and deep cleaning approach.

 

We reacted to the health crisis in a very human way. Our retail philosophy is to apply the three C’s: Curation, Convenience and Community. All played a role in driving our determination, in particularly the latter two. People needed to be able to easily get their groceries, medications and fulfil basic shopping needs. It was imperative that we took every measure to ensure our Retail Town Centres stayed open to support the community.

 

Very quickly, we needed to ensure that our centres were safer than they’ve ever been. They needed to communicate that certainty to everyone who would visit. And, on top of that, needed to give them a reason to visit, an experience beyond their expectation and a desire to stay connected.

 

It’s amazing how quickly things evolved. We lit the wick on a 10-month program of events purpose built for the circumstances. They had to be different. At the beginning of the year, it had been business as usual – celebrations of the Lunar New Year, preparation for the back-to-school year; engaging, well curated activations that created customer foot traffic for retail partner’s demand.

 

Soon, it was something entirely different. Our first ever online Community Meeting Place was launched, an ever-changing hub of ideas and opportunities with which people could connect. It was a new way to keep customers engaged digitally, featuring live meetups, on-demand and live events, food inspiration, DIY ideas, wellbeing content, community stories and more. The various pages across the online hub were visited over 55,000 times and counting, while the hero video was watched over 1 million times.

 

Initiatives such as these were born out of the realisation that everybody was looking to maintain a sense of belonging, in all facets of their daily lives. More than ever, and perhaps uniquely in Stockland’s experience, people were reaching out for not just a touch of normality, but a spark of brilliance that brightened their day and gave them enjoyment and hope.

Year’s end brought the further development of click and collect and deliver on demand, available at selected centres. And then, there were the sales-events: mid-year and end-of-year; amplified and full of confidence, driving retail product engagement. Mid-Year Sale promotions on social media achieved an impressive reach of 1.4 million, amplifying over 330 offers from our retailers.

 

Our centres are traditionally social meeting places at the heart of our communities, and 2020 challenged how they lived up to their responsibility to our customers. The online meeting place met the need, and the concept was extended – live cooking demonstrations with celebrity chef Miguel Maestre were played back over 5,000 times; and four on-demand fashion styling episodes with Jules Sebastian were each viewed over 100,000 times. School holidays - so different this year - were enhanced by Stockland Craft Boxes for kids, tied to a minimum retail spend, creating fun at-home opportunities. In Victoria, one of the hardest hit, a virtual school holiday campaign saw the release of bespoke Little Miss Inventor videos, downloadable activity sheets and a Snap & Share competition. In so many ways, we became closer to the community than ever before.

 

Dunder and our Christmas Ibis - a wonderful downunder Reindeer-replacement - brought festive season magic to a community which was bursting for reasons to celebrate or at least to set aside the real world for just a while, with the hero video being viewed over 2.3 million times across YouTube and social. In the absence of unlimited real-time connectivity, we introduced augmented reality – and our Ibis character, an image to which all Australians can relate, provided six games for kids (and customers) to play – sparking joy and driving in-centre traffic. Long before Christmas, we were receiving positive reports of visitation – and we were well into planning for post-holiday promotions.

 

2020 ended in a much better shape than it could have. It would have been all too easy to let lockdown dictate our marketing plans without finding an alternative approach, but that would have been to the detriment of every one of our stakeholders, importantly our retail customers.