Good public relations (PR) during a crisis is incredibly important for retailers to gain consumer approval in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, according to an analyst. Fraser’s Group CEO Mike Ashley recently issued a public apology, highlighting the significance of good PR during the crisis. The analyst stated that retailers with exemplary ethics will benefit once the outbreak subsides.

To secure customer approval in the post-coronavirus era, retailers must start taking ethical actions now. Data and analytics firm GlobalData has stated that retailers who have made bold commitments to their staff, customers, and the wider community will be remembered. Conversely, those who have displayed less ethical behavior risk falling out of favor with shoppers when normality returns.

Brands and retailers are currently striving to demonstrate that they are doing the right thing during the crisis. Some are offering free access to previously paid-for services, while others are extending their returns policies and ensuring the well-being of their employees. Retail analyst Emily Salter believes that retailers who go above and beyond in their efforts will be more memorable to consumers. She highlighted companies that have established hardship funds for struggling staff, launched initiatives for those who cannot shop online, and expedited payments to small suppliers.

Salter specifically mentioned the fashion sector, where international brands are using their production capacity to manufacture equipment that is needed in the fight against Covid-19. For example, Inditex has announced that it will produce surgical masks and hospital gowns for Spanish healthcare facilities, while LVMH has switched from producing perfume to manufacturing hand sanitizer for French hospitals. Salter pointed out that these actions demonstrate retailers’ willingness to incur costs for the benefit of society. However, she also cautioned retailers to prioritize the health of workers involved in the manufacturing process as the global outbreak continues to escalate.

Salter also highlighted the importance of the apology issued by Mike Ashley. Retailers that engage in profiteering and mistreat their staff may face negative long-term consequences when it comes to consumers’ purchasing decisions, especially if individuals close to the consumers have been negatively affected. Salter specifically mentioned the Frasers-owned Sports Direct chain and Arcadia as examples. Arcadia recently announced the closure of all its stores before the government revealed its job retention plan, prematurely terminating fixed-term employment contracts.

In conclusion, maintaining good PR during the coronavirus crisis is crucial for gaining consumer approval in the future. Retailers that demonstrate exemplary ethics and take actions to support their staff, customers, and society as a whole will be remembered positively. On the other hand, those that engage in unethical behavior and mistreat their staff risk losing favor with shoppers beyond the outbreak. The fashion sector, in particular, has the opportunity to contribute to the fight against Covid-19 by utilizing their production capacity to manufacture much-needed equipment. However, it is essential for retailers to prioritize the health and well-being of workers involved in these initiatives. By taking the right actions and maintaining good PR, retailers can ensure consumer approval post-coronavirus.

Useful links:

The Role of PR in a Crisis: Coronavirus, Good PR, Mitigating Brand Reputational Risk, and Winning Brand Trust
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