Shopping as it once was is no longer. Major retailers like Macy’s, Sephora, Nike, Apple, Ulta, Adidas, and many others have shuttered for an indefinite amount of time, in an attempt to curb the spread of covid-19. Only drugstores and grocery stores remain open. But shopping, like yoga, happy hours, and work meetings, are now activities for home, temporarily changing the landscape and sending brands into a minor tailspin on how to adjust. It is imperative to their survival to urge people to spend money, but to reframe that directive as another means of taking care of yourself, because they care about you, and also, your money.
Small businesses that were merely surviving before covid-19 might not bounce back once shelter-in-place restrictions lift and people are allowed to leave their homes. But larger brands and corporations must do something to ensure the safety of their bottom line. Figuring out how to quiet the jangled nerves of consumers who are itching for some sort of normalcy is a delicate dance; striking the right tone in an email about exercising both self-care and consumerism is tricky. The emails collected below are similar in tone to the way employers will cast themselves as members of a family; retailers want you to know that they really care.
Watching the retail industry responds to a global pandemic while everyday Americans figure out how to adjust their lives to a new reality has been fascinating and horrifying in equal measure. As we sit in our homes attempting to work, to parent, to caretake, and to live, email inboxes are flooded with missives from every possible retailer assuring consumers that even though the world is a scary place right now, they are here for you. Keep buying, the messages implore.
Anthropologie has not been affected by the virus, but would like you to know that if you want to stop looking at Twitter, they’re here for you.
Lunya, a company who makes very nice and expensive sleepy-time clothing, is worried. This is a time, Lunya’s team implores, to “laugh, share, connect, and be together.”
It’s unclear why Urban Outfitters chose to make their letter of reassurance look like it was written on a typewriter.
Restoration Hardware’s response to the pandemic is perhaps the most confusing and is the first one I’ve seen that unnecessarily invokes Martin Luther King Jr.
Carbon38, a “family” that sells leggings and sports bras, urges human connection at a safe distance. Customers, they reassure, are a community.
Madewell’s email made me feel neither cozy or comforted, merely confused. I am looking for the light of which they speak, and have found little to no inspiration in their spring offerings: why buy a dress for a “gathering” when said gathering is just a collection of throw pillows and one of the cats in the living room?
Heyday, a fast-casual facial emporium, has some ideas.
Copywriting in 2020 means treating a consumer like a friend, a partner, or a supportive older sibling, which serves to create the cognitive dissonance needed for people to trust them enough to buy what they’re selling. We are in an unprecedented global crisis, seeking comfort wherever it comes. The brands know this and they are doing their part. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. There will be more coming. Happy shopping!