Primark is remarkable as a retail brand in that it's predominately an in-store retailer with a very limited e-commerce offering. Despite this, it excels at social media, and never was this more apparent than during the pandemic.
During the first UK lockdown from March to June 2020, Primark reported a decrease of monthly sales from £650 million to £0. Yet despite the three-month selling hiatus (Primark has no transactional website), the stores reopened to 5am queues, thousands of shoppers and an audible "How did they do that?" from other retailers.
Primark smashed its social engagement out of the park during lockdown. With over 1,000 posts between April and August, they generated 7.1 million engagements with their content, alongside this they saw 66,000 conversations about them or their products.
So, how did they do it?
It's simple. The brand ensured it was part of the conversation with its customers. Despite its inability to trade, Primark maintained excitement levels with its customers, positioning its social media feeds as a go-to place for everything from fashion advice to boredom-busting baking recipes.
Even though they were unable to trade during lockdown, Primark stayed just as active as when they were trading, an approach they replicated throughout all subsequent lockdowns. Every customer comment was responded to and every piece of content they produced served customers’ lockdown needs and reflected the state of mind customers may have been in.
Every conversation created about Primark is an opportunity for them to engage with not only that customer, but also that customer’s own audience, increasing reach and improving brand reputation. Getting your audience to talk about you is social media gold as that is what drives reach. To do this you need to think carefully about the topics that will drive that conversation.
The conversation about Primark during the first lockdown was driven by their beauty range, and they listened. Their customers are most excited and engaged by its beauty product and Primark kept this stream of content regular. The fast fashion brand shared content that helped customers do their nails at home or offered brow tutorials. This approach demonstrated empathy for their customers and helped them get through lockdown life with handy tips and tricks for our new world as well as providing inspiration and fun.
What Primark achieved during the COVID lockdown is remarkable. Despite not being able to sell via ecommerce they have stayed consistently connected to their customers. They read the room and tailored their content to make sure it was always relevant to the state of mind of their customers. The proof is in the pudding, the comments on their social media show the connection they have with their customers and the reopening to queues around the block demonstrates the value of that connection as does their financial performance.
How you can succeed with social like Primark
Innovate and adapt your tactics to meet changing customer needs/sentiments.
Be relentless in your engagement with your customers, let them reach you at all times, and respond quickly.
Listen to what your customers are saying about you, other businesses like yours or your sector, and create streams of content that resonate.
Find out how you can engage with your audience on your social channels.