Coronavirus: a test of customer loyalty

It is the fourth week of the coronavirus lockdown in Denmark, with no clear signs it will end anytime soon.

An announcement on April 6 confirmed it will last for at least five more weeks.

With strict social distancing measures in place, only retail establishments selling essential items are permitted to open, thus barring the customers of many stores from visiting.

CPH POST recently caught up with several well-known local brands to find out how they have been coping with the first month of this new disturbing reality.

Liquorice loyalty
Two weeks after Danish PM Mette Frederiksen closed the country’s borders, the CEO of Lakrids By Bülow, a premium liquorice brand, reached out to his audience via Instagram with a video that stood out from the usual branded content.

The video shows Johan Bülow touring his empty office, while only factory employees, directly involved in the production of sweets, stay busy. Bülow expresses his struggles in a very personal and relatable manner, reminding us all to take care of each other. He even proposes initiatives to distribute unsold stocks to the most vulnerable groups hit by the virus and the effects of isolation.

In a day this very raw video becomes one of the most popular on Bülow’s personal page, as the comment section fills up with words of solidarity and support.

This video is a good example of how brands use social media to build emotional connections with their audience – which during a time of crisis is more important than ever. By being honest with your customers, brand loyalty is strengthened, and this ultimately helps to weather the storm.

“Our marketing team is pushing campaigns through social media and we are guiding our community and customers to our website instead of physical stores,” explained Maja Lindahl, the PR & event manager at Lakrids By Bülow.

“Our community is active and still buys our products. Now more than ever through our website.”

Walking plants
While some retailers have already established great e-commerce experiences, others have struggled due to either a lack of investment in digital technology or the necessity to sell goods from their physical stores.

The spontaneous union of locals and caring, loyal buyers who express their social solidarity through social media can in these circumstances be a lifebuoy for survival. On their personal pages and in online groups people, willing to help small shops, started sharing the names of those that provide takeaways and deliveries.

Plant København is one of the shops that got supported this way by one of the online communities of expats in Copenhagen on Facebook. The business was born out of a concept to never sell cut flowers, but rather only lasting plants with roots, thereby reducing waste.

According to Maja Samsø Bastian, the co-founder of Plant København, the company has had to pivot around the coronavirus.

“When COVID-19 first hit Copenhagen, the three of us [founders] were looking at each other thinking; ‘How will our little business survive this?’, as there were simply fewer people shopping at our stores,” she said.

“We came to the conclusion to transform our shop into a plant-delivery service. If our customers can’t come to us, we will come to them. Instead of a website, we use our old Instagram account. Every day we post new pictures of plants for sale, and then at night we drive around the city and deliver the plants to our sweet customers.”

Happy to help out
Stuck at home, people buy non-essentials like plants to make this period of uncertainty more tolerable. Self-isolated, they also have more time to clean by themselves. As a result, cleaning services are hit hard by the crisis.

“When people are home they typically do not want their house cleaned, so it has impacted our platform very negatively,” revealed Dennis Schade Forchhammer, the co-founder and CEO at Happy Helper.

Happy Helper is a booking platform for home cleaning, with more than 500 registered cleaners in Copenhagen alone. Since 2015 the platform has helped thousands of Danish households with their cleaning and at the same time secured around 50 million kroner in investments along the way.

Today the loyalty of their customers and employees repay in kind. Even though the demand for home cleaning has decreased, some customers keep paying for the service to help it survive the crisis.

“We are extremely proud of the users that we have on our platform. Many bookers who have cancelled their cleaning have chosen to pay their ‘Helper’ to support them through this crisis,” said Forchhammer.

“We have also seen Helpers who have given their bookings to other Helpers because they did not need the cash as much. I believe we have the best and most emphatic users on our platform, and it has inspired us to work even harder to come through this crisis.”

The experiences of Happy Helper and others have shown that social media channels and e-commerce are now absolutely crucial for survival.