Lady with mask on looking at phone and carrying bags

Old Navy’s New Normal

Back in May, we discussed popular brands going through the motions of crisis advertising with our blog The Good, The Bad, And The Poorly Timed. We explored the importance of pivoting and called out those who have been doing so successfully, but there’s one brand we didn’t mention which, over the past six months, has done a lot of good for themselves and their customers as a whole – and that’s Old Navy.

Old Navy has long been a staple for value-minded customers; however, in this new world where we conduct our personal and professional lives from home, the demand for comfort and affordability has certainly helped to pave the way for Old Navy’s pandemic success. Recently, a candid conversation took place during Recode’s Code Commerce@Home series with Head of Old Navy for Gap Inc., Nancy Green.

Nancy Green became the Head of Old Navy just days before the pandemic. She recognized the magnitude of the event early on last spring and jumped on the ball quickly.

Upon organizing two central command teams, Green said they “focused on trendlines – not headlines” and were careful not to let emotion get in the way of making rational, smart decisions.

With stores closed for nearly two months, Old Navy made a decision: ramp up their e-commerce business by utilizing their brick-and-mortar stores as shipping fulfillment centers. They also offered customers a flawless curbside pick-up system within two weeks of that fateful day in March.

“We were able to use store inventory to fulfill online orders. While we were closed to the public, we were actually fulfilling a tremendous amount of customer orders through our stores.”

When lockdowns had lifted, Old Navy was more than prepared. In order to give both employees and customers confidence, Old Navy stores implemented sneeze guards and higher-level cleaning protocols; they added additional staff and hours with retraining included; they also were delightfully aggressive with communicative signs for customers on social distancing and mask-wearing.

The hard work paid off handsomely. Old Navy added 3.5 million customers and online business grew 137% in Q2. The stores have reopened, but Old Navy’s e-commerce business has exploded with no sign that these new customer behaviors are changing any time soon.

Meanwhile, with the arrival of the holidays, Old Navy has masterfully crafted their marketing around that cozy, casual, at-home comfort that they’ve supplied to customers for decades. They’ve also acknowledged the kind of year it has been for all of us. Upon announcing their “WE Holiday” campaign with Ru Paul at the helm, Old Navy published the following:

“Recognizing that we’re in this together became a common thread in 2020 and is the message at the heart of our new campaign. In all the things we do, no matter what time of year, we know we’re more powerful, and more fun, as WE. Old Navy’s WE Holiday campaign truly celebrates all of us. No matter who we are or where we live, we’re in this together…even if we can’t be physically together at this time.”

Here’s to Old Navy – a successful brand and pivot to be admired by marketers and consumers alike.

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