Pandemic pivot: How Greek tech retailer Germanos rewired its approach to drive the biggest sales of the year

Olga Chatzidoukaki / September 2020
Pandemic pivot: How Greek tech retailer Germanos rewired its approach to drive the biggest sales of the year

This year, many people’s plans came to a halt; from daily routines to holidays and celebrations. And the same can be said for retailers. Businesses of all shapes and sizes were hit hard with store closures and changing consumer behaviours. Advertisers have had to adapt in order to stay ahead.

Being flexible becomes crucial to retail survival

With people spending more time at home, search interest in consumer electronics began to pick up momentum. Not only to help working from home, but also for entertaining kids, and staying connected with loved ones. The digital world is fast-paced and keeping up with complex consumers is tough. Greek tech retailer Germanos understood it had to make big changes to keep up with changing demand.

In anticipation of its 40-year anniversary, Germanos had planned a celebratory corporate campaign ⁠— with a month of daily deals ⁠— both in-store and online starting in March. But when its 275 stores across Greece faced restrictions due to the pandemic, the company made a bold decision to postpone its long-planned strategy and start afresh with one that honed in on the customer needs at that moment. “Being flexible is something that has become crucial to retail survival,” explains Ilias Mavidis, retail marketing senior manager, Fixed & Mobile.

Leaning into high-demand products

In uncertain times, it’s more important than ever for advertisers to understand which retail categories are rising fast and adjust their strategy accordingly. Retailers can start by closely monitoring demand ⁠— understanding what people are searching for ⁠in real-time — and then lean into high interest areas.

Germanos has long been the leader in mobile phones sales in Greece, but the category was declining during COVID-19. Instead, demand grew for electronics like TVs, printers, gaming consoles, and laptops.

With its anniversary campaign on hold, Germanos teamed up with media agency Mindshare to refocus its efforts. Due to rising demand, the teams focused heavily on promoting printers, TVs, and internet connectivity — categories that would normally be low on their advertising agenda. In fact, TV was their best performing category (and biggest increase in spend) at the end of lockdown, despite it being less prominent pre-pandemic.

The teams identified four highly relevant pillars and grouped related product categories under each: ‘working from home’ with laptops and other home office products, ‘entertainment’ which included TVs and gaming consoles, ‘home workouts’ with wearables and other fitness products, and ‘communication’ including smartphones to stay connected with loved ones. And they showcased them in a landing page to direct traffic.

Highly relevant strategic pillars

Pandemic pivot: How Greek tech retailer Germanos rewired its approach to drive the biggest sales of the year

Plugging into the right channels

Online became the default purchasing channel for many consumers during lockdown. Since the beginning of March, search interest in online shopping and how to buy online has grown by 2X worldwide.

Germanos is a traditionally heavy spender on television ads. But with the move to online, the company followed suit by investing less in TV spots, and instead focusing on online platforms where they knew customers were spending more of their time.

They partnered with popular YouTube creators to produce content for their channel, driving the entertainment category further. And to hone in on sales and consideration, the team turned to YouTube for Action, coupled with Custom Intent and remarketing audiences.

The teams chose Discovery ads ⁠— an ad type that appears on the Google Discover app, Gmail, and YouTube ⁠— to boost sales and awareness. Rather than being based on pre-existing demand, these ads are shown to customers when they’re most open to finding something new. Users have the ability to toggle a ‘more/less’ ticker when a piece of content does or doesn’t appeal to them, allowing machine learning to further tailor the feed to users’ tastes. And the teams worked daily with Search and Shopping ⁠— adopting all best practices like smart bidding and automation ⁠— to deliver the maximum value and meet rising demand.

Full-funnel findings: Be flexible and stay close to real time demand

By making a radical shift, concentrating on high-demand categories, and creating customised experiences for its users, Germanos saw a drastic increase in engagement and sales.

The retailer achieved 16X return on ad spend for Search, a 1101% increase year-over-year. Across all campaigns, sales increased 74% quarter-over-quarter, exceeding even Black Friday and Cyber Monday by 137%. What’s more, the company saw 62% year-over-year decrease in cost per acquisition.

Pandemic pivot: How Greek tech retailer Germanos rewired its approach to drive the biggest sales of the year

As this example from Germanos shows, being flexible and staying close to real-time demand is very important in a time of drastic change. But it’s not only useful during a pandemic. Having a flexible mentality and staying on top of changing consumer behaviours will help advertisers be prepared for whatever changes lie ahead.

Google Trends insights to help you understand consumer behaviour throughout the COVID-19 pandemic