According to Janet Berger, Creative Strategist at Flow Communications, the term ‘pivot’ has become bandied about so much that some might say is now wearing, but it does capture the zeitgeist (to use another hip term) of our time.
‘Pivot’ has entered our lexicon over the last few years. The dictionary meaning of the term is to turn or twist but the new meaning seems to be more ‘find and take advantage of opportunities that previously didn’t exist’. Individuals, companies, societies and brands have all had to pivot in the last few years if they wanted to survive and be sustainable.
Several brands that have done this successfully have impressed me and, while their innovations may not be groundbreaking or award-winning, they have directly affected my life in a beneficial way, so I want to give them some airtime.
The first is Checkers – never a go-to brand for me and not really my supermarket of choice. It sat in the ‘I’ll go there if nothing else is available’ brand space in my head. The retailer came up with Checkers Sixty60 as a direct response to consumers’ fear of going to supermarkets during the worst of the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020.
I’m personally averse to online shopping, but the real impact of Checkers Sixty60 in our home was on the ‘never-seen-dead-in-a-supermarket’ man of the house! Having had the app recommended by his son, he discovered the benefits of having mixers (as well as other essentials, like biltong) delivered to our doorstep within an hour.
He has now become the grocery shopper of the household and my only involvement is to decide whether the second options offered through the app are okay. Life-changing stuff! This was a good pivot for the chain, not only because it spoke to consumers’ needs but also for the job opportunities it has provided within the strained retail space.
Testament to this is the number of delivery bikes on the road, and of Checkers staff doing customers’ shopping for them in store. Home delivery is nothing new, but Checkers got it right – I think mainly because it works and is convenient, but also because it has, intentionally or not, brought a whole new client base of non-shoppers into the fold. Suddenly, a rather jaded and somewhat personalityless brand has become responsive, caring, useful and likeable.
Discovery has also undergone a brand perception shift in my head as it went from being a serious monthly grudge purchase to being a brand I am happy to support. Its move to become the proactive flag waver for the Covid-19 vaccination campaign was possibly initiated by self-interest, but ultimately resulted in the organisation being seen as a brand that goes the extra mile to get a job done.
Pivoting to offer the use of its empty offices to become vaccination sites and managing the process so efficiently has done a huge amount to change perceptions of the brand among its existing client base, as well as, I imagine, the broader public. Amid the uncertainty, mismanagement and confusion around vaccinations, Discovery stood out as a group you could trust and rely on to look out for your well-being. What better space could a medical aid administrator hope to own in its consumers’ mind?
Adapting to new challenges as they present themselves has become a prevalent mindset over the last few years and this is the case for successful brands, too. To remain sustainable and relevant means shifting with the times while still staying true to the brand promise and understanding that you have with your customer.
Long-lasting and loyal relationships with brands must be built on brand belief, and those brands that have pivoted in a way that reaffirms that belief will be the ones people continue to support.