October 19, 2020
No Comments

Using the 5 Ps to Thrive in Today’s Retail Environment 

COVID-19 has led to changes in shopping behaviors that have disrupted the retail ecosystem in ways that were previously unimaginable.

Despite obvious concerns related to living through a global pandemic, consumers still need to shop for food, clothing, pet supplies and additional everyday essentials. And brands and retailers still need to sell these things to stay in business.

But with many of the old “gold standard” marketing tactics now rendered irrelevant, what can businesses do to evolve and survive?

I believe that by examining the 5 Ps of Marketing through the lens of today’s unique situation, business leaders can begin to identify meaningful shifts they can make to help their businesses thrive in the new retail environment.


  From To
Product Differentiation based on unique product positioning, features, benefits, claims and packaging. Pursuing differentiation via transparency, empathy, purpose and a commitment to health and safety. No longer reserved for niche natural/sustainable offerings, this approach is now likely to become a cost-of-entry for any brand looking to build trust and an authentic connection with today’s consumers.
Price A channel-based pricing strategy with variable price premiums and discounts based on factors like shopping methods (online, in-store, curbside), shipping, local markets, competition, etc. Applying an omni-channel approach to pricing and cost structure that factors in pandemic-related changes to consumer behavior and expectations. Some shoppers may not be willing (or able) to shop in-store, but at the same time, they may not be willing (or able) to pay a premium for curbside pickup or shipping. Therefore, pricing strategies must shift to facilitate retail shopping and brand purchase experiences that extend seamlessly from in-store to curbside to home delivery.
Placement A channel-based merchandising strategy, SKU prioritization and shelving principles that strengthen competitive positioning and maximize category/shopper growth. Taking an omni-channel view of product portfolios that proactively responds to changes in purchasing behavior, channel dynamics, and the competitive landscape. People now expect consistent product availability in-store and online so that they have the flexibility to shop however they want. There’s also a greater number of shoppers looking to buy larger/bulk sizes to minimize their number of trips. Merchandising and SKU rationalization needs to consider these behavior shifts to create a successful omni-channel merchandising plan.
Promotion A focus on maximizing ROI with an optimal mix of marketing, display and promotional tactics that increase shopper traffic, reach and conversion across multiple channels. Reevaluating investment priorities and marketing mix decisions—especially for high-impact tactics that may no longer be feasible. For example, when in-store sampling isn’t possible, promotional strategies may need to change in order to initiate trial via other means (free trial coupons, trial sizes or sachets, displays, etc.). Similarly, an increase in ecommerce activity may trigger the reallocation of resources towards online promotion.
People A path-to-purchase journey with an emphasis on brand/sales representatives, customer service associates, influencers and brand advocates who interact with shoppers along their purchase journey. Empathetically re-evaluating brand/product interactions against the new challenges presented by shopper behavior changes and safety/health guidelines. Brands and companies may want to consider leveraging technology (virtual assistants, AR, videos, etc.) and innovation to provide personalized interactions with consumers.


Want to go beyond the 5 Ps? Check out Burke & Seed’s breakthrough COVID-19 consumer segmentation research to learn more about how we can help you respond to consumers’ evolving needs.

Written by Adam SiegelIn addition to being the Editor of The Accelerator, Adam is VP, Creative at Seed Strategy, where he draws upon his diverse experience in advertising, research and innovation to craft breakthrough creative and winning concept copy.

Connect with us! Follow Seed Strategy on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Give your inbox out-of-the-box thinking (about every two weeks)