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Connecting with consumers in a post-COVID world

Last year, as we entered the spring months of the pandemic, consumers adopted new and often fear-based shopping patterns. During this time, people prioritized taking care of themselves and their families. Americans adopted stay-at-home lifestyles, hopped on numerous zoom calls, and binged the newest Netflix documentaries. Although, as more people stayed home, retailers and businesses struggled to grow. In order to stay relevant, businesses had to implement curbside pick-up, delivery services, fast-shipping, and other tactics to make it easy for Americans to shop while remaining safe. Businesses needed to maintain trust with their customers and let them know that they would stand by their side in this strange time. While the success of businesses like Target and Grubhub skyrocketed because of easy and accessible online services, others like Neiman Marcus and J.C. Penny filed for bankruptcy. The main objective of Relevant Youth and businesses large and small was to connect and relate to customers in this period of change.


Now, at a little over a year into the pandemic, companies and retailers can look back at one of the most innovative periods in history. While there is a lot to learn from this period, businesses and Relevant Youth are now tasked to visualize and adapt to a post-COVID world. As more people get vaccinated, businesses need to understand how to connect with consumers. Successful companies that have built trust with their customers are best positioned to continue to grow, and that is exactly what Relevant Youth is aiming to excel at. Mikaela Ashley, Director of Insight for Relevant Youth, worked with her team to understand how Veterans United could recruit for internships more effectively. Ashley and her team were successful in distributing an online survey through social platforms.


“We made our survey easy to complete while gearing the questions towards college students' opinions on internships," Ashley said. "The team was surprised to receive more than 300 responses. Our questionnaire was a creative way to still produce results while being virtual. Through the questionnaire, the Insight team helped Veterans United learn more about their prospective interns with detailed analysis on their target audience and how to better recruit and grow as a business during the pandemic."


Relevant Youth’s mission is to meet clients needs through disruption, innovation, and creativity. These three qualities are skills businesses are utilizing now more than ever when their clients needs are changing. Emma McVady, Co-Editor in Chief of Express, along with her team have worked hard to keep Relevant Youth’s value of "disruption" alive while still building trust with consumers in a pandemic.


“We are working on not losing touch of the physical aspect of experience," McVady said. "We have been working on a digital magazine, Express, which will also be printed and handed out. While everyone is going digital, we are reverting to print to give people something they can hold in their hands in a world that is becoming virtual. Connection is inherently both physical and social. It is important not to forget this when trying to connect with people virtually." After months of virtual meetings and plans being cancelled, consumers are yearning for physical experiences that allow them to interact with people face-to-face, and the Express magazine does just that.


Relevant Youth continually adapts to consumer behaviors, and existing in a pandemic has consequently adjusted those behaviors. Other businesses, along with Relevant Youth can resume their ways of connecting with customers in a non-virtual world when it is safe to do so. But until then, it is essential for businesses to understand current consumer trends and behaviors.




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