Business Briefing: Imagination x creativity x technology

Harriet Nicholson
Harriet Nicholson
Head of Strategy 11 Jun 20205 minutes read

A round-up of the most important insights and what they mean for your business.


Earlier on this week, we had the privilege of talking to Watergate Bay Hotel and Another Place’s Brand Director Judi Blakeburn. In a deeply insightful conversation, Judi shared the challenges she faces in balancing safety needs with an enthralling brand experience.

No matter your sector, successfully charting a post-lockdown reality requires imagination and creativity, as well as a potent blend of symbiotic online/offline experiences.

In our weekly wade through the Covid-19 melee, here are the key insights for your business:


90% of all ‘face to face’ transactions since April 1st are now being made by contactless payments – and cards have overtaken cash for the first time.

Retailers must redefine business models and embrace more technology into customers’ retail journeys if they’re to survive the pandemic. According to GlobalData, “Technology will emerge as the game changer for the retail landscape in the immediate as well as long-term future.”

Home retailers are reimagining the role for store in customers’ buying journeys, shifting to online/offline hybrid consultation experiences.

Why does this matter?

Covid-19 presents retailers both with a challenge and an opportunity. How can you deliver a compelling brand experience while keeping shoppers safe? Achieving this requires reimagining the customer experience, spotting pain points and embracing technological solutions not only to protect shoppers, but also to inspire, engage and ease them through a buying journey.


‘We’re being pushed into change - which is a gift’, says Watergate Bay Hotel and Another Place Brand Director, Judi Blakeburn. Please use password: 4X^q94c+ with the above link for more remarkable and candid insight into Judi’s reopening plans.

St Moritz Hotel is investing in a purpose designed ‘socially-distanced’ restaurant, mixing the elements of a private members’ club, private dining rooms, beach clubs and summer pop-up restaurants. 

The travel industry is turning to more automated processes to cope with leaner in-house teams.

Why does this matter?

Hotels and tourist attractions are preparing to reopen their doors to a brave new world. As we discovered in our illuminating discussion with Judi Blakeburn earlier in the week, imagination and iterative innovation is imperative for today’s hospitality industry. Only by thinking creatively and leveraging technology effectively can you overcome safety hurdles, meet guests’ high brand expectations and ‘achieve more with less’ as in-house teams downsize.

Financial Services

Innovative and seamless banking capabilities – and new payments businesses partnerships - are part of the new reality for the banking industry’s most important players.

Open Banking gets its own App Store.

HSBC’s Head of Innovation says Covid-19 has brought digital communications and technology front and centre, not least in secure instant message integrations.

Why does this matter?

In China, nearly 70% of the payments handled by Citigroup are done through AliPay. Citigroup’s digital payments technologies are also present on social messaging platforms LINE and WeChat. This crisis, and with it the rise of contactless and mobile payments, may shift consumer expectations in the UK along similar lines. We may soon find that consumers expect not only to manage their finances easily and safely via mobile device, but to do so using their favourite apps and services.


Covid-19 has legitimised and established gaming as a proper entertainment marketing vehicle.

As interior designers decorate in-game homes on Nintendo’s Animal Crossing, and millions flock to Fortnite concerts, the virtual economy is well and truly upon us.

71% of mums in engage with video games. ‘Gamer moms’ are huge content consumers and well-primed for brands. Mums hold up to 80% of all family purchasing decisions.

Why does this matter?

As both our Etch Play Team and Growth Team know only too well, it’s high time we ditch the gamer stereotypes and take gaming seriously as a premium advertising channel. 25% of British consumers are spending more time on computer and video games than pre-crisis. Esports have well and truly hit the mainstream as viable substitutes to live sport. Streaming has been normalised. Ignore gaming environments at your peril!


Each week, we pick out the one feel good story of the week. Showcasing human resilience and brilliance during a time of great change and innovation. So, what have we loved this week? 

In a bid to elevate BAME voices, on-demand film platform The Criterion Collection has removed the paywall on all narrative films and documentaries made by black filmmakers. Meanwhile Netflix has launched a Black Lives Matter collection as its own genre. What does this tell us? While many brands have been quick to show admirable solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement, few have sought to create tangible change from within the product or service offering. It’s good to see meaningful support from these streaming platforms.


Every day we will be sharing key business insights on our social channels. Each week we will round up our daily posts into a pivotal weekly digest. And if that’s not enough, we’ll be hosting regular webinars to talk through what it means for your customers, your sector and your business. So, keep an eye out on our social channels for upcoming webinars.

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