The Pandemic Is Shifting How Consumers Shop In-Store And Online—Here’s How Marketers Can Respond

Some 39 percent of consumers globally have abandoned a purchase due to slow or inflexible delivery options, according to “The Future of Shopping Has Come Early,” a report from Facebook IQ’s new Industry Perspective series, which taps a mix of internal and external experts.

When deciding whether to buy online or in-store, new factors have emerged for shoppers, fundamentally changing the consumer value equation. Price is still king, with 74 percent of consumers saying they’re focused on getting the best price for everyday items.

However, safety, reliability and proximity have emerged as key influencers. For example, 71 percent of consumers globally say it’s very important that a retailer create a safe environment to shop in-store. More than 70 percent of young shoppers globally say delivery time is very important in determining where to buy online, compared with 66 percent of Gen Xers. And for 32 percent of Gen Z respondents, the option of next-day delivery increases their likelihood of making an online purchase.

As a result of these shifts, a seamless return policy and excellent customer service are becoming major differentiators for brick-and-mortar retailers. Sixty-eight percent of Gen Z and millennial shoppers globally say good customer service is very important in influencing where to shop in-store, compared with 53 percent of baby boomers.

Another key differentiator for brick-and-mortar retailers is selling local products, as Facebook research shows that clicks on searches for local businesses increased by 23 percent from February to May. Similarly, 38 percent of consumers globally made a special effort to purchase from a local/small business.

With activism playing a bigger role in consumers’ lives, a brand should tend to its reputation and corporate social responsibility. Each of these shopping factors increased by six percentage points in the US from May to July this year.

Brand values are also influencing where consumers shop, with 56 percent of consumers globally saying it’s important that the brands they buy from support the same values they believe in. This is true for 65 percent of US millennials. Additionally, more than half of consumers globally consider sustainability important in determining where to shop both online and in-store.

For marketers, addressing new consumer expectations will require the creation of a safe in-store shopping environment and a reliable online experience. Marketers should consider offering a range of promotions, as well as communicate how their brand and business practices are helping the environment, its employees or society at large.

Brands must also seek ways to reduce friction points in-store and online as COVID-19 has heightened financial risks and psychological risks in consumers’ minds. Eighty-nine percent of consumers say they are at least somewhat concerned about visiting a physical retail store to shop because of the pandemic, and 36 percent of grocery shoppers have stocked up on products to limit trips to the store.

Interestingly, some 41 percent of respondents say they’d like to receive messaging from brands and retailers about the steps they’re taking to ensure consumer safety, while 37 percent would like more contactless payment options.

The pandemic has added nearly 145 million new digital buyers globally this year. When it comes to deciding where to shop online, 70 percent of respondents say they prioritize reliability and 68 percent prioritize convenience. Thirty-nine percent of consumers globally say they’ve abandoned a purchase due too low or inflexible delivery options. Thirty-two percent say they chose not to complete a transaction due to a poor returns process.

“Cart abandonment accounts for at least 50% of attrition from your purchase funnel, costing e-marketers about $2–4 trillion a year,” said Ian Simons, head of industry for ecommerce at Facebook.

As new shoppers pivot to online, marketers must address this confidence curve by communicating efficient product fulfillment and a smooth return policy.

For 79 percent of shoppers worldwide, the internet makes it easier to compare products by price. And for 67 percent, the internet makes buying products less risky. Still, 30 percent of consumers say the inability to touch/see a product in-person is a barrier while online shopping.

Over half (63 percent) agree that they want to virtually try on products from the comfort of their own home. Among those who’ve tried augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), 46 percent say they’ve done so for the first time since the pandemic started.

Another nascent format that consumers are growing comfortable with is live commerce, with 49 percent of online shoppers agreeing that they’d buy products directly from live videos where brands, celebrities or influencers they follow are launching new products.

Social media remains crucial for adding experiential elements and convenience to the online shopping experience, with 66 percent of consumers saying social media has become as important as other information sources when deciding what to buy.

As 58 percent of consumers have shopped on at least one new digital shopping platform since the start of the pandemic, brands must work harder to attract loyal customers. This will entail the evolution of loyalty programs beyond just discounts. The loyalty perks consumers globally want brands to offer include free delivery (55 percent), special price promotions (54 percent), free returns (42 percent) and points that can be redeemed (26 percent).

Leadership Through 2X Growth With Steve Schlesinger In The Market Research Industry

On this 235th episode of “Marketing Today,” I speak with Steve Schlesinger, founder and CEO of Schlesinger Group, a market research company. Schlesinger has been a part of the family business for over 35 years, working to take the company to greater heights than it has ever seen!

We start our conversation with the history of Schlesinger Group and how Schlesinger’s mother’s affinity for hard work set the foundation for years to come. Over the last 35 years, Schlesinger Group has experienced multiple chapters of growth. “The goal for us is really to maintain a nimble and agile approach to how we run the business and how we build the business,” Schlesinger says regarding that growth. Schlesinger then dives into the recent partnership with the private equity firm Gauge Capital and how that has led to the company doubling in size in just the last 14 months. Schlesinger talks about the best ways to ensure success when growing a business and how it’s vitally important to “make sure you have a great team around you.”

We then talk about Schlesinger’s angel and private investments. When I ask what Schlesinger’s criteria are when deciding what businesses to invest in, he says, “at the end of the day, I actually look at the people first, then the idea.” Schlesinger knows that people, whether they be employees or clients, are a critical component to any business’s success!

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • Steve lives in New York City and had COVID back in March, but he didn’t find out until his knee surgery in May. 1:31
  • Taking a year off from grad school at Georgetown, Steve worked in project management for his mother’s research company. 2:36
  • Steve’s mom was a hard worker and really enjoyed talking to people, but that didn’t necessarily make her a natural entrepreneur. 4:13
  • Growing up in the depression helped Steve’s mom set the foundation for her company and her family. 5:10
  • In his youth, Steve and his siblings always did what they could to contribute to the business whenever they could. 5:42
  • Over the last 35 years, there have been multiple chapters in the family business that has seen drastic change and growth. 6:47
  • Bringing in Gauge Capital as a private equity partner helps set the business up for its next chapter as more digitally focused. 7:45
  • Finding a private equity partner helped Steve and his partner further craft their strategy moving into the future. 8:29
  • Quantitative and online qualitative sectors saw massive growth after partnering with Gauge. 9:40
  • Massive growth to different markets all over the world has left gaps that present an opportunity to make the process more seamless. 11:15
  • Steve looks at the time horizon in two ways regarding Gauge Capital and the business itself. 12:30
  • To help your business grow significantly, make sure you have the right team around you. 13:26
  • Keep a good handle on the market and what your clients think of you at all times. 13:55
  • Don’t let that desire slip away. It’s only going to become more challenging as you grow. 14:15
  • The Insight industry’s future consists of brands utilizing technology to have a greater understanding of consumer demands. 15:13
  • After acquiring Market Cube, Steve’s business has transformed from a user to a developer. 17:30
  • Many industries are trying to leverage tech and create products but have left the critical people component behind. 18:56
  • There are a multitude of roles and asks with the types of work that clients do for their internal clients. 20:38
  • Steve has a handful of successful side businesses that help him support other people’s entrepreneurial journeys. 22:08
  • Being the executive for other businesses has allowed Steve to reflect on his journey as an entrepreneur. 23:10
  • A few of Steve’s favorite side businesses lie in the Spirits, Tech, and HR Management industries. 24:00
  • Having the right team and people involved in a company is Steve’s guiding principle when investing in a business. 26:31
  • The encouragement to work and hustle from his parents shaped who Steve is as an entrepreneur and a man today. 28:00
  • It is incredibly important to be reflective of your experiences as you are going through them. 29:05
  • Tech businesses are successfully changing the world right in front of our eyes. 32:00
  • Knowing how to work with the wealth of information available today presents both an opportunity and a threat to marketers today. 34:56

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Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on opportunities around brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine startups.

What We’re Reading—Week Of November 23rd

Struggling to Solve a Problem? Try Reframing It

Harvard Business Review

Daniel Markovitz, president of Markovitz Consulting, says that to generate effective solutions to problems, you should try rewriting the statement by either changing the subject or how you’re measuring the problem.

Why it matters: As per Markovitz: “A small change in subject or measurement can lead you to an entirely different set of countermeasures…and a big change in your perspective.”

Clorox’s Jackson Jeyanayagam On Why Retail Is Not Dead + DTC Isn’t Just For Startups Anymore


According to Jackson Jeyanayagam, vice president, general manager, direct-to-consumer at Clorox, big brands are suited to succeed in the DTC space as much as digitally native brands, because many DTC startups aren’t creating value for the consumer, nor being unique in a commoditized category—they just have a cool-looking font and a funny tag line.

Why it matters: Many people falsely assume that direct-to-consumer is a model only suited for startups when the reality is that DTC is not a brand nor a strategy, but rather another distribution channel.

Rethink Capabilities To Emerge Stronger From COVID-19

McKinsey & Company

Over half (53 percent) of leaders rank reskilling as the most useful way to close capability gaps, which 80 percent consider as very or extremely important to their organizations’ long-term growth.

Why it matters: One-third of company leaders report an increase in spending on capability-building efforts since the pandemic began.

42 Percent Of Marketers Say Influencers Provide The Best ROI Compared To Paid Media Ads


According to a survey conducted by Social Publi, 42 of marketing professionals say that influencer marketing provides better ROI compared to paid media ads, search engine optimization and email marketing—up seven percent since last year.

Why it matters: Fifty-five percent of respondents plan on increasing their influencer marketing investment for the remainder of the year and 26 percent plan on maintaining it.

CPG Marketers Roll The Dice On New Experiments Amid Data Upheaval

Marketing Dive

As the deprecation of third-party cookies approaches, consumer-packaged goods (CPG) brands may face greater challenges to gathering first-party data because retail partners and platforms own the point of sale where consumers share that information.

Why it matters: To adapt, CPG marketers should look inward and realign operations for a future that will require more digital agility and experimentation in areas such as ecommerce, direct-to-consumer dealmaking and content marketing.

What We’re Reading—Week Of November 16th

Purpose & Sustainability Needs To Include Usefulness: ANA CEO Weighs In On Brand Trends


Through conversations with its CMO friends during COVID-19, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) found that consumers are interested in authentic relationships and tangible actions that move conversations around racial and social injustices forward.

Why it matters: ANA’s research indicates that companies have seen improvements in gender equity, but not as much in diversity, as only about 12 percent of the CMO community is from a multicultural background.

Mondelez CMO Defends Calling Marketing Strategy ‘Humaning’


Despite receiving backlash from experts and on social media, Mondelez International CEO Martin Renaud is backing the company’s decision to call its new marketing tactic “humaning,” defined as “a unique, consumer-centric approach to marketing that creates real, human connections with purpose, moving Mondelez International beyond cautious data-driven tactics and uncovering what unites us all.”

Why it matters: A recent survey Mondelez conducted found that snacking helps consumers connect with each other. Now, the company’s marketing focuses will be leading with purpose, making each product “right,” mastering creativity and being digital-first.

Pandora’s Open Beta For Audibility Is About Helping Advertisers Get More Comfortable Spending On Audio


Pandora is moving into the next phase of its beta testing of the Media Rating Council’s audibility standard with advertisers across 50 campaigns to understand the effectiveness and optimal duration to drive favorability of audio ads. Partnering with Oracle Data Cloud’s Moat on the tests, Pandora’s plan is to be able to support the MRC’s audibility standard by 2021.

Why it matters: In its 2018 research, Pandora discovered that simply saying a brand’s name over the course of two seconds is enough to generate basic recall.

Paid Active Influencers And Sponsored Content On TikTok Surge


The latest report from Traackr found that from the first half of 2019 to the second half of 2020, the number of paid active influencers on TikTok increased by 368 percent, sponsored posts increased by 95 percent and engagements with those posts increased by 298 percent.

Why it matters: Traackr observed a noticeable decline in the overall amount of sponsored content on other social media platforms including Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

How Promotional Games Can Drive Business Beyond 2020

Ad Age

A recent study conducted by The Marketing Store found that consumers have embraced gaming as an essential part of their new normal, with more than 88 percent playing games during the pandemic and 46 percent playing everyday.

Why it matters: Given that gamers are playing to relax and/or to connect with friends and family, brands must shift marketing away from being purely transactional to inducing emotional engagement. To successfully utilize promotional gaming, brands should ensure their game is easy to start, offer tier rewards to drive participation and rewards, include low value/high quantity prizing, partner with complementary brands and enable technology to ensure user accessibility.

Marketing In The Cloud With NetApp CMO James Whitemore

On this 234th episode of “Marketing Today,” I speak with the CMO of NetApp, James Whitemore. Over the last six years, NetApp has made the switch from a traditional data-storage company to a cloud-based storage company, and Whitemore is here to talk all about it.

We start our conversation off with Whitemore’s childhood in the U.K. and how an affinity for toying with technology sparked an early interest in the field. Whitemore then outlines his professional journey, starting as a salesman for a mobile phone company in the U.K., which led him to work for big tech in the data storage field in the U.S.  Whitemore made the switch to the startup industry and that eventually led him to NetApp. NetApp has been “managing large-scale data storage” for over 30 years in countries all over the world. We then dive into the recent shift into large-scale cloud data storage and how that has affected NetApp’s sales and marketing processes.

Whitemore’s background in sales helped him make the shift, staying true to the guiding question, “what’s the selling experience got to look like for that client?” He has found that there is no cookie-cutter process, and the clients must “pick their own journey.” Whitemore then touches on how the shift in technology has forced a change in employee demographics, stating that “we had a lot of people who understand how to use the technology…but if you don’t have people that really know how to put it to work,” then you’re stuck. In a world that is navigating chaos, NetApp is trying to “redefine what enterprise-class cloud storage services should look like!”

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • James grew up in and around technology, knowing that he wanted to work in tech from a young age. 1:02
  • After University in the UK, James began his career selling mobile phones before moving to Colorado to join the storage industry. 1:31
  • James became tired of big tech and made the switch over to helping bring startups off the ground. 2:45
  • NetApp has been managing large-scale data environments for over 30 years for companies all over the world. 3:21
  • Over the last 5 or 6 years, NetApp has switched from storing data in large data centers to storing data in clouds, making data movement much easier. 4:21
  • NetApp has had to reinvent the company to serve both the data center and cloud audiences. 5:56
  • The entire sales process has changed because the demographics of those sold to has changed with the cloud. 7:01
  • Sales cycles have been very predictable for the most part until cloud selling reared its head. 8:26
  • James’s background in sales has made the switch over to cloud sales smoother. 10:36
  • NetApp has had to throw away the classic qualification process, essentially allowing clients to choose their own journey. 12:50
  • Marketing organization, funding models, and metrics have had to shift after 20+ years of traditional infrastructure. 13:28
  • Many services that had traditionally been outsourced had to be brought in-house because they are core to what NetApp does. 14:24
  • It’s taken over three years for the company’s demographics to change following the shift in technology. 16:23
  • The revenue-marketing team is working towards shifting the company mentality from lead generation to revenue generation. 17:37
  • NetApp’s ability to help its customers transform their companies has skyrocketed with the shift in technology and people. 18:54
  • New interest and new buyers are coming in at an incredible rate for a 30-year-old company. 20:16
  • NetApp knows where to look for their customers and what information those people need to hear. 21:10
  • I. bots have become an essential part of the selling process by acquiring information from potential customers. 22:14
  • James is on a mission to redefine cloud storage services to one of convenience for the users. 22:57
  • The marketing team focuses on what their audience is going through during the global pandemic to meet their needs. 24:18
  • While consumers are dealing with the chaos of the world, NetApp makes sure to take care of its employees while they deal with the same troubles. 25:30
  • James’s dyslexia forced him to go through an extra level of work to get through school, but this made him resilient to the world’s tough realities. 27:55
  • Learning difficulties do not equate to stupidity but should be seen as an opportunity to confidently navigate obstacles. 29:52
  • Dolly Parton’s foundation works to make literature accessible to children around the world, and that cause resonates with NetApp. 32:46
  • James was on the Peloton train very early and admires how it has created a community on its platform. 33:45
  • B2B and B2C are the same, presenting both challenges and opportunities. 34:46

Resources Mentioned:

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Connect with Marketing Today and Alan Hart:

Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on opportunities around brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine startups.

IAB: The Brands Of 2021 Will Be Storeless, Streaming And Data-Rich

According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) 2021 Brand Disruption Report, the pandemic has accelerated the nation’s shift to a “storeless” direct brand economy five times faster than pre-pandemic rates.

Hastening this shift has been the rise of ecommerce, which now represents 23-25 percent of all retail commerce in the US, more than seven times what it was in 1995, according to IAB.

Research from McKinsey shows that nearly every consumer category will see 15-45 percent growth in permanent online shopping.

As a result, IAB expects brick-and-mortar store closures in the US to top 25,000 this year, nearly three times last year’s record number of closings. Among the major retailers that announced bankruptcy due to the pandemic include Neiman Marcus, Pier 1, Sur La Table, Brooks Brothers, J. Crew, J.C. Penney and Lord & Taylor.

“Faced with recession-minded consumers fearing out-of-home contact and hamstrung by compromised logistics and retail operations, retailers are using digital 1-to-1 channels, such as text and chat, to reach consumers, sell products and put products in shoppers’ hands,” Chris Bruderle, senior director, research & analytics, IAB, tells AList.

At thriving major retailers, same-day delivery is booming. As per IAB, Target’s same-day delivery grew 350 percent during COVID while its “buy online, pickup in store’ (BIPOS) offering grew 700 percent. Currently, 43 percent of the top 500 US retailers now offer BIPOS, up from seven percent last December.

Directly shoppable media such as livestreams, social commerce, virtual consultations and shoppable ad formats will be the fastest-growing ad categories in 2021, says IAB.

Many brands have already incorporated these formats into their strategy. Coty recently boosted conversions with an augmented reality (AR) beauty try-on Snapchat lens; TikTok announced a global partnership with Shopify; General Mills is making its brands’ sites more experience-driven and content-focused; and Esteé Lauder launched a voice-activated sampling campaign on Spotify to promote its new product.

Shoppable livestreams have also seen a surge in engagement during the pandemic. In July, Amazon launched Amazon Live for influencers as Facebook and Instagram rolled out live shopping features in August. IAB’s research shows that this year, sales from global livestreams will double to $120 billion. Last year, China’s major online shopping festival, Singles Day, alone generated $2.9 billion in sales.

“Being successful in livestreaming comes down to creating original, live video content that is entertaining, engaging and interactive, combined with seamless checkout functionality,” says Bruderle.

This will require brands to enable consumers to directly interact with sellers on the platform for Q&As and tutorials. To get off the ground quicker, Bruderle says brands can enlist companies like Livescale, Bambuser or Popshop Live that offer full-service, livestreaming capabilities.

IAB says that the introduction of shoppable formats will strengthen the free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) medium, which has seen significant growth during lockdowns. NBCUniversal’s Peacock reached nearly 22 million users, according to its Q3 performance update. Similarly, Xumo, recently acquired by Comcast, said that since January, its user base has ballooned 2.5 times to hit more than 24 million US monthly active users.

Digital acceleration coupled with government privacy regulations is fueling 60 percent of marketers to stress-invest in first-party data, a necessary ingredient for remaining competitive. 

To operate as a data-first company while overall maintaining privacy compliance, Bruderle suggests putting mechanisms in place to capture customer consent to use their data for marketing purposes, then finding trustworthy data partners to supplement that data with user attributes around media behaviors and shopping intent. 

Next, brands should find ways to activate that data such as through identity resolution partners, CRMs, CDPs and other data activation technologies. Lastly, he says they’ll need to find scale on the open web, which means finding publisher partners who have validated their own audiences and are thus able to match that back with the brand’s first-party data.

“Overall, retailers need to reimagine their current, offline shopping experiences into online shopping experiences, or to put it another way–turn “IRL” into “IVL,” says Bruderle.

What We’re Reading—Week Of November 9th

Here’s a look at the marketing and advertising articles we’re sharing internally this week.

Now Is A Good Time To Take Care Of Ourselves

Harvard Business Review

Stressful, unsustainable circumstances due to women taking on “invisible tasks” at work and at home have made it hard for many to stay focused and optimistic.

Why it matters: Well-being expert Mandy O’Neill explains that resource-rich companies see less burnout among employees due to offering financial and psychological benefits such as personal time and autonomy. Whereas at organizations that are poor in resources, burnout is high.

Walmart, Verizon Media Cater Shoppable Holiday Content To An Unusual Season

Marketing Dive

Walmart and Verizon Media’s new holiday campaign, “30 Days of Savings,” gives consumers early access to discounts on electronics, toys and other products through shoppable articles across Verizon Media properties, including HuffPost, Yahoo, TechCrunch, Engadget, In The Know and RYOT Studios.

Why it matters: Brands like Buzzfeed, Lego and Hasbro have also tested shoppable content to meet consumers this holiday season as they increasingly shop online due to safety concerns around COVID-19.

Chobani Raises Minimum Wage To $15 And Challenges All The Companies Who Benefited Due To Covid To Do The Same


Chobani’s starting hourly wage will increase to at least $15 an hour, more than double the federal minimum wage, setting the hourly rate at the company’s manufacturing plants in South Edmeston, New York and Idaho at $19 an hour. About 70 percent of the company’s employees are paid hourly.

Why it matters: Some food and beverage brands like Chobani made record profits during the pandemic. Now, Chobani is challenging those brands to put people over profits.

Two-Thirds of FMCG Brands Maintained Or Increased Their Influencer Spend During COVID-19


A new report from Duff & Phelps and Kroll found that  22 percent of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies spend between $1.1 million and $5 million on influencers.

Why it matters: By 2021, 46 percent of FMCG companies expect to spend 31-50 percent of their total marketing budget on influencers.

The Brands Americans Feel Most Intimately Connected To During COVID-19

Marketing Profs

According to MBLM’s Brand Intimacy COVID Study, US consumers feel most intimately connected to Apple, followed by Amazon, Google, Walmart, YouTube and Toyota.

Why it matters: MBLM found that top intimate brands continue to financially outperform the leading brands in the Fortune 500 and S&P 500 indices across revenue growth, profit growth and stock price during Q2 of 2020.

Beyoncé Inks Multiyear Peloton Deal As Fitness Marketer Looks To Keep Up Momentum

Marketing Dive

Peloton has partnered with Beyonce to create digital workouts around homecoming for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that have pivoted virtual due to the pandemic. In addition, students at 10 HBCUs will be given a free two-year membership to Peloton Digital accessible through the app.

Why it matters: The “pro-social initiative” follows a five-point agenda that Peloton CEO John Foley announced around tackling inequity in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. In Q1, the company reported a 232 percent year-on-year surge in sales.

How 2020 Is Reshaping Social Media


According to Deolu Deborah King, vice president head of paid social, EMEA at Essence, brands must reassess how they reach out to consumers, especially on social media, as consumers increasingly see brands as a reflection of their own values and identities.

Why it matters: During times of socio-cultural crisis, brands must evaluate the role of the platform, determine whether it’s appropriate for them to act at all and instead of solely blasting sales messages, amplify the full brand identity.

Gary Goodman’s Creative Picks: Risky Business

While it could be a rough sprint to the end of 2020, one thing is for certain: we’re almost there! 

This week I wanted to focus on brands that are taking chances. As you’ll see if you keep reading, I mean that in the broadest sense of the word. Knowing how hard it is to get clients to push outside their safe zones, I’m always in awe of companies committed to taking that risk and trying something a little different. If it works, then you get noticed in a big way.

Land Rover – “Unstoppable”

I have our resident Brit, Justin Hills, to thank for this James Bond-themed selection featuring Land Rover’s new Defender. At first glance, you think you know what this is: it’s another movie tie-in that uses big-budget Hollywood blockbusters to push a product. But in this case, you’re only half right.

Why it matters:  The first thing that struck me when watching this was that the pandemic completely messed up Land Rover’s marketing window as the new James Bond movie, “No Time To Die” has been pushed (once again) to April 2021. They clearly spent a ton of money but aren’t getting the expected halo effect of drafting off the massive Hollywood hype machine and the expectation that a large portion of the movie-going world would be seeing their new vehicle saving the world…again.

But once I quickly got past that snarky reaction, I realized something much more surprising was going on here. Can anyone remember another high-end car commercial where they pushed the car to its limits so that we actually got to see it take damage and keep moving? In the world of luxury automotive advertising, you never see the car looking anything but beautiful and badass.  Yet there’s something glorious about (as one Hollywood writer said to describe Indiana Jones) ‘seeing your hero fail heroically.’ It makes you connect with them in a powerful way so that you end up rooting for them even more.

The details: According to No Time To Die’s Stunt Coordinator, Lee Morrison, “…we pushed the Defender further than we believed possible to generate the maximum excitement, and to give fans an insight into the uncompromising challenge of producing an incredible chase sequence which you can look forward to seeing in No Time To Die.” The key stunt driver in these scenes is race car driver Jessica Hawkins, hand-picked for the job after Lee saw her competing in Formula 3W. I also understand that they used 10 Defenders in the creation of this scene. How many do you think they used to attempt that final corkscrew stunt?

Root Insurance – “Bubba Wallace: Progress Owes No Apology”

Next up is a very different interpretation of a brand taking chances and pushing the boundaries.

Why it matters: Whether or not you’ve heard of Root Insurance, you’ve certainly heard about the controversy surrounding NASCAR’s only black driver, Bubba Wallace, and his effort to ban the Confederate flag from the sport. And that is what is at the center of this no-holds-barred, adrenaline-fueled spot. It’s got all the bells and whistles of the sport: high-octane machines, RPM’s revving and flawless pit crews defying time, but all of this is just the wrapper around the more important message driving this spot: Bubba Wallace has taken a stand for what he believes in and through his force of will, has helped change the sport for the better.

The main tension in the spot is generated from sound bites ripped from news headlines, interposed with graphic imagery that you’d never expect to see in a major brand spot. Bubba Wallace took the fight to NASCAR and his determination to change what was an accepted practice is a cause that Root Insurance is boldly championing.

The details: Why would an insurance company want to take on such a controversial topic?  According to the chief brand officer for Root Insurance, Kelly Ruoff, this spot is aimed at an audience they define “as socially aware and culturally connected—people who make purchasing decisions based on an alignment of values and will reward a brand for doing the right thing. The goal here was to tell Wallace’s story with a wider audience and show the brand’s support of him in the process.” Director Wesley Walker, a Black-Latino American, says the film seeks to convey “truth, meaning and positivity. What people do not know is what it feels like experientially to walk this path, and what it takes to stand for what is right against such intense resistance.” Powerful stuff!

Amazon – “The Show Must Go On”

Swinging the pendulum to the opposite end, Amazon uses a very personal story to energize the “hope” in all of us.

Why it matters: Amazon has chosen to put out a brand building holiday message that has very little to do with any of their products or services so that they could focus on the one thing all of us could use a lot more of right now: hope. This singular story is all too familiar to most of us: starting in a pre-COVID timeline and seeing the impact of the shutdown on someone’s dream. The storyline focuses on a very personal moment for an aspiring ballerina. Through the superb filmmaking and acting, they buckle you in for an emotional rollercoaster. But that’s just the setup; the real story here is one of ingenuity, of people coming together and the ability for all of us to re-envision a goal in a new way that fits our current reality. I don’t know about you, but I got the feels in a major way.

The details: According to Simon Morris, VP of global creative at Amazon, “Our TV ad is inspired by, and pays tribute to, the unbeatable human spirit and the power of community that we have witnessed so often this year.” 

The film features French ballet dancer, Taïs Vinolo. “When I was growing up in the French countryside,” she says “there were no young black girls studying ballet with hair like mine, or even on TV, meaning I had no one to identify myself with.” Finally, for all you Queen fans, the ad features a unique arrangement of the band’s song “The Show Must Go On.”

What We’re Reading—Week Of November 2nd

Benchmark Study Reveals Social Has Moved Centre Stage In The Marketing Mix

The Drum

The Business Value of Social surveyed 230 brands for its “Immediate Future” benchmark study, which found that 55 percent are tailoring some of their content by social media platform, while a similar amount are creating content based on consumer behaviors and interests.

Why it matters: Despite social’s major influence on marketing, only a third of brands linked social goals to those of the business, with 54.5 percent saying their leading objective is brand awareness. In addition, 43 percent of brands spend under 10 percent of their marketing budget on paid social.

Pandemic Purchase Patterns Shake Up Holiday Performance Marketing Campaigns


Data from Cardyltics show that spending at brick-and-mortar stores is down just 14 percent year-over-year, leaving in-store shopping as the top conversion location.

Why it matters: According to transactions from Cardyltics’ 157 million bank customers, nearly 75.2 percent of 2019 holiday spend occurred in physical stores. And while online spend increased 25 percent YoY during the pandemic, many online shoppers have stayed loyal to store brands.

The North Face Announces ‘Reset Normal’ Partnership With Lena Waithe To Address Inequity In The Outdoors


As part of its global initiative, “Reset Normal,” The North Face has partnered with Lena Waithe and Jimmy Chin to help create scalable solutions that address inequity in the outdoors.

Why it matters: Communities of color are three times more likely to live in nature-deprived places and often face racism when they do explore the outdoors.

Verizon Unveils 5G Football Experience In NFL App

Mobile Marketer

Verizon’s new “5G SuperStadium” experience in the NFL app gives football fans access to live stats, various camera angles on the field and an augmented reality (AR) feature that lets them create video overlays of favorite players. The experience requires the new 5G iPhone 12 and a subscription to Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband.

Why it matters: The initiative is part of Verizon’s larger effort to help the NFL write a new digital playbook as the brand turns on 5G in 13 stadiums.

Strengthening Institutional Risk And Integrity Culture

McKinsey & Company

To improve your risk and integrity culture—which refers to the mindsets and behavioral norms that determine how a company identifies and manages risk—you must first diagnose the current state then establish detailed definitions to set goals and measure progress. A key tool for obtaining a broad measure of your risk culture is a dedicated organization-wide survey.

Why it matters: McKinsey has found that those organizations with a mature risk and integrity culture outperform peers through economic cycles and are less likely to suffer from repetitional difficulties and operational mistakes.

Ayzenberg Partners With LA Promise Fund To Host Virtual Career Day For High School Students


Ayzenberg partnered with nonprofit organization LA Promise Fund on a virtual career day to educate more than 75 students from South Los Angeles’ Santee Education Complex about careers in design and advertising.

Why it matters: The racial diversity gap within the marketing and advertising industry remains an issue. In a 2018 survey that the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) fielded among its 13,700 members, just eight percent identified as Hispanic/Latino and six percent as African American/black.

Emarketer: US Ecommerce Sales Will Reach $794.5 Billion This Year, Up 32.4 Percent YoY

According to eMarketer, US ecommerce sales will reach $794.5 billion this year, up 32.4 percent year-over-year—a level not previously expected until 2022 and a much higher growth rate than the 18 percent the researcher predicted in its Q2 forecast.

“While much of the shift has been led by essential categories like grocery, there has been surprising strength in discretionary categories like consumer electronics and home furnishings that benefited from pandemic-driven lifestyle needs,” said Andrew Lipsman, eMarketer principal analyst at Insider Intelligence.

In an Inmar Intelligence survey of more than 300 US consumers, 78.7 percent reported shopping online for groceries after the onset of the pandemic, up 39 percent from before the crisis.

Of those polled by Inmar, 51.4 percent reported buying groceries on Amazon since the start of COVID-19, up 32 percent from before the pandemic. Similarly, brand manufacturers saw a 117 percent surge in direct-to-consumer (DTC) grocery sales after the pandemic started, while online grocery stores saw a 48 percent increase.

Ecommerce sales will reach 14.4 percent of all US retail spending this year and 19.2 percent by 2024. When excluding categories sold almost exclusively offline, such as gas and auto sales, ecommerce penetration surges to 20.6 percent, according to eMarketer.

The researcher says that online shopping is so solid that it will more than offset the 3.2 percent decline in brick-and-mortar spending this year, which will decrease to $4.711 trillion. The result will be flat total retail sales in the US.

The surge in ecommerce will also mean a widening of shares of the top 10 ecommerce players, who will account for 63.2 percent of all online sales this year, up 57.9 percent in 2019.

According to eMarketer, Amazon’s share will increase to 39 percent this year and Walmart’s will reach 5.8 percent. In addition, Best Buy and Target—both expected to surge more than 100 percent—will see their ecommerce sales more than double, due in large part to the popularity of their curbside pick-up services. New to the list is The Kroger Co., which will displace Macy’s as the 10th biggest retailer by ecommerce sales.