Adapting to engage customers during lockdowns

Engage customers during lockdowns

Adapting to engage customers during lockdowns

There are many ways small businesses can engage customers during lockdowns. Read about the challenges faced by Wagga Wagga business The Curious Rabbit and how they got creative and adapted.

What we have done at The Curious Rabbit to engage customers during lockdown

The Curious Rabbit is a cafe, bar, art gallery and bookshop. We are also home to a huge range of events for the curious, including life drawing, art classes, workshops, literary events, poetry nights, improv theatre, original music performances, drag shows and monthly feasts. We regularly host private functions and events.

While the cafe is an integral part of the business operations, the most profitable components of the business are the events and private functions. People come to The Curious Rabbit to enjoy the experience. We do not have a high percentage of our customers who use us for a quick takeaway service, they come to sit for a while. 

This presented us with an enormous business challenge – how do we encourage people to think of us in a different way? How can we encourage people to support us for take away? How can we engage with our customers on social media to keep them connected to us so we remain top-of-mind for post-lockdown activities?

We also wanted to keep the staff engaged and give them opportunities to come up with ideas. As most of our staff are casuals we tried to share the hours around as equitably as possible.


We ran a number of simple competitions to get people engaged. For example, we ran a Haiku poetry competition whereby people had to incorporate either the word rabbit or curious. There were over 40 entries. We gave away two gift vouchers to the winners.

We also had a number of guessing games. Guess what’s in the cake box to win it. Work out who the owner’s favourite authors are for your chance to win a new keep cup.

Acts of kindness

We asked our customers to nominate someone who they knew were struggling during the lockdown. We delivered each of the nominees a care pack. Over 20 care packs were delivered. There was lot’s of great engagement from customers participating and commenting on our generosity. After the campaign people were paying for hampers for friends – we matched their $ contribution with additional items.

We also offered to send cards and notes to people, giving customers a free card, envelope and stamp, and mailing them as well. Some people sent their messages through Messenger for transcribing onto cards. Twelve cards were sent.

We delivered 70 melting moment cookies to the local seniors home – many of whom are our loyal customers. We received amazing feedback and thanks.

Gift with purchase

We ran a number of campaigns to encourage people to come in for take-away coffees – free cookie, cupcake etc. With the changing liquor licensing laws we were able to offer bottles of wine that we sold together with cheese on Friday nights. This spilled over into other nights.

Responding to the media

During the lockdown I remained open to responding to the media, but also contacted journalists with stories I felt they would be interested in. For example, we continued with our exhibition program even though the artists knew their audiences were diminished. We also decided to donate part of our proceeds to Beyond Blue. This became a great story for the media. 

Post lockdown

As we were lucky to only be in lockdown for four weeks (well so far!) we were able to keep up enough momentum to ensure people remained engaged and supportive.

The first day out of lockdown we rewarded our loyal customers with a live concert and have been discreetly giving them freebies and bonuses to thank them for their support. We have been busier post-lockdown than in the weeks prior which we believe is testament to looking after people as much as we were able to.


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