What does a marketing team at a non-essential retail organisation look like in the time of a coronavirus lockdown?
French fashion and furniture multichannel retailer, La Redoute, is much smaller in terms of headcount, and it treads carefully in terms of its messaging. A global health emergency is no time for pushiness, according to head of media, Anna Faure.
“La Redoute has asked 80% of team not to work,” she explains, adding the French government has said it will cover wages of those not working due to the virus.
As head of media, Faure is one of four leaders in the La Redoute marketing team – the other heads oversee search engine optimisation, traffic, and CRM, respectively. Each of these teams have between three and six employees, but since the health crisis escalated La Redoute is keeping things going with just one person in each of those teams.
Explaining why this is, Faure – whose role is to oversee brand and performance marketing – notes: “When we have 1,000 working at home it’s hard to make good decisions and be agile.
“So, it’s only a small team working for the website, and the idea is to keep employees safe, and be more agile, faster, and to take opportunities when they arise.”
La Redoute’s story may be of particular interest to similarly modelled retailers in the UK, because France is approximately a week ahead in terms of government-mandated lockdown, to help reduce the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. President Emmanuel Macron ordered all non-essential French retailers to close their doors on 15 March, while UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, made a similar statement to the UK on 23 March.
Marketing in a time of coronavirus
So, what has been made a priority in Faure’s team during this unique period? Brand messaging has wound down, but performance marketing is key.
“It’s important on social media to react with the situation,” she notes.
“Campaigns must have the right level of humour, and communicate in a suitable way. Actualise the communication with the situation, but we don’t want consumers to think everyone has left the company and has been replaced by a robot.”
Faure adds: “We try to be more empathetic in campaigns on social networks.”
She says the marketing campaigns have been minimised in line with traffic reductions to the website. However, La Redoute is accentuating products on its homepage in keeping with the situation – home-office, indoor fitness, and garden toys are prominent categories.
Faure was scheduled to speak at RetailEXPO at the end of April, prior to the event’s coronavirus-influenced postponement. Among the topics due to be covered in the panel debate were the social media manoeuvres working well for the businesses.
Prior to the pandemic closing down much of retail and disrupting everyday life, La Redoute had experienced success working with Olapic to publish user generated content on its website and product pages, according to Faure. It was also an early adopter of Instagram Shopping, in France, helping test the service in the country with six other brands.
It was set to press ‘go’ on a new Pinterest advertising initiative, which has now been delayed until business operations return to normal. What date that will be remains anyone’s guess.
“It’s one of the projects we have to wait on at the moment,” Faure says.
“We believe a lot in Pinterest because we sell clothing and furniture, and we have in our history a capacity to inspire people. We hope we can launch soon and achieve some good results.”