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Heroes on the front line: new influencers following Covid-19

Elisabeth MENANT
Innovation Trends Manager
5 minutes
Since mid-March,the European countries have started to deconfirm their deconfinement step by step, a word that will certainly be included in the next Larousse editions! It’s Austriasince March 16th where non-essential shops of less than 400 square meters, as well as DIY and gardening signs, have been able to reopen. Germanybegan its deconfinement, adapted according to the regions, on 20 April. Shops with a surface area of less than 800 square metres were able to reopen. InItaly, the first relief measures were taken on 3 May: little by little, businesses are reopening with caution. In Spain, the same gradual opening rule has been applied, with partial openings of shops with a surface area of less than 400 square meters, by appointment.

Behind this, too, there is hope for a more social approach. Thatthe heroes on the front line(health workers, cashiers, transporters, garbage collectors, etc.) will not be tomorrow’s forgotten heroes. 

The fact: Tribute to our heroes!

On 6 April, the women’s magazine Grazia in the UK devoted its cover to healthcare professionals. Janitha Gowribalan, 35, anaesthetist and intensive care doctor, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, Labour MP and A&E doctor, Richenda Browne, 29, senior nurse in the emergency department of King’s College Hospital and Sarah Blanchard, 27, ambulance driver.

Elle magazine is following the same path by launching its “The other front line” campaign, portraits of women who are on the other front line of Covid-19, working in food stores, delivery services or public transport.

The communication agency GRM Digital launches its online memory game, a simple way to raise awareness of positive stories about the fight against Covid-19. Anyone can thus propose their hero to enrich the collection of portraits.

While in Portugal, the Cerveja Nortada brewery is partnering with the Red Cross and online shopping site Dott to launch a beer that celebrates frontline heroes, with profits from sales going to the Red Cross to support the fight against Covid-19.

The calls for mutual help from our relatives, neighbours and seniors, the support behind the health care staff, the dedication of the cashiers, transporters, garbage collectors, grocers and agents are all signs that human ties are a richness that everyone must preserve. Because instantaneity and the ability to hold a conversation still belong to human.

Decoding: a necessity, re-enchanting the role of the seller

If the Covid-19 crisis accelerates the transformation of trade, it also amplifies the explosion of borders: omnicanality or rather unified commerce is the grail to survive, collaborative consumption is merging with traditional brands (Carrefour is joining forces with Uber Eats, Instacart in the US is recruiting more than 300,000 people), employees are moving from one company to another to ensure continuity and wages, as in Germany where McDonald’s employees reinforce those of Aldi, companies such as LVMH or the brewer AB inBev are converting their production plants to make hydroalcoholic gel.  

The figure of the salesperson is no exception to this explosion either: influencers, micro-influencers, popular stars, traditional sales force, the customer himself. Who sells what and to whom? Who helps who and how? The consumer now has a choice. The only thing they have in common is that the consumer wants interaction and a reassuring human presence, even at a distance.  No wonder that a startup like Hero, which connects the consumer from a brand’s website to a salesperson physically present in the store, is currently seeing some great signatures (Deciem, Rag&Bone, TSI Holdings).

In China, it is the KOL (Key Opinion Leader) who make the rain and shine in the retail sector, following the example of Mr Bag, followed by 3 million users, who have recently been competing with the KOC (Key Opinion Consumers), i.e. micro-influencers. These retail figures are revolutionising livestreaming, moving from a format of product sales to the sale of a story where avatars can also have their place, accentuating once again this explosion of frontiers at the end of the Covid-19 crisis.




In Europe, the food chains have put their employees in the spotlight and organised their opening hours for the most fragile or priority customers such as healthcare staff or the elderly (Casino, Auchan in France, Delhaize in Belgium, Lidl and Iceland Foods in Northern Ireland). At the start, these are often the same brands that pioneered new, more inclusive forms of hospitality, such as Morrison’s Quieter Hour or Sainsbury’s with its “slow shopping”. It is indeed a change in the stance of the role of the salesperson, who is more attentive to the needs of the customer and who finds meaning in his or her work, which is valued.

Big losers? Google and Amazon’s voice assistants, absent from the landscape since the beginning of the crisis.

Now that they have been enhanced and highlighted, it is essential and urgent to rethink the function of personnel at the point of sale and, at the same time, to continue to make the consumer come and come back.

Elisabeth MENANT
Innovation Trends Manager
To explore with you the transformation of retail with a double approach both editorial and business
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