What do consumers expect from brands in coronavirus crisis?
The Covid-19 pandemic has been raging for several months, affecting people and the global economy, and market research firm Kantar has turned its attention to its impact. The firm has interviewed a panel of over 25,000 consumers in 30 countries worldwide, to investigate their mood and the expectations they currently have of consumer brands, in order to help the latter take decisions and remain relevant with their customers. The first finding was that, in the present emergency, consumers wish above all for brands to take care of their employees’ health, as indicated by 78% of interviewees.
Secondly, 62% of interviewees think that brands should implement flexible-work policies for their staff, while 41% also expect them to help hospitals or, according to 35% of interviewees, their governments.
Very few consumers expect brands to stop advertising during the emergency: only 8% of interviewees consider this a priority. Some brands have been thinking about stopping advertising altogether in order to slash costs, but Kantar indicated that “not being featured on television will induce a 39% fall in brand advertising awareness, potentially slowing down recovery in a post-pandemic world.”
However, knowing how to communicate is a challenge for companies in the present circumstances. The majority of interviewees want brands to show they are making a positive contribution to society, and expect them to “talk about the way [they are] useful in daily life” (according to 77% of interviewees), “give details of their efforts to tackle the situation” (75% of interviewees), and to “speak reassuringly” (70% of interviewees).
Which pitfalls must brands avoid at all costs? According to 75% of the panel, exploiting the coronavirus emergency to promote themselves and, according to 40% of interviewees, using a humorous tone.
Whatsapp’s popularity grows
Since the start of the health emergency, the media consumption habits of consumers have changed significantly. Kantar said that, after isolation measures were introduced in several countries, web browsing increased by 70% compared to normally observed levels, TV viewing by 63% and social media engagement by 61%. WhatsApp is the social media platform that has most benefited from this increased usage, improving by 40% globally and by as much as 51% in recent weeks. Facebook use has increased by 37%.
Kantar also observed a decline in the trust placed in many media: “Traditional national information channels like radio, TV and newspapers are regarded as trustworthy by 52% of people. Government agency websites are regarded as trustworthy by only 48% of interviewees, suggesting that the measures introduced by governments do not induce confidence and a sense of security among citizens worldwide. Social media platforms are regarded as a trusted source of information by only 11% of people, mirroring a loss of trust in the wake of recent electoral contests.”
Finally, regarding consumption expenditure, Kantar found that the majority of citizens in G7 countries say that Covid-19 “is having or will have” an impact on their household income - 82% of Italian interviewees declared so, and 65% of French ones. Hence there will be an impact on their ability to spend once the emergency will be over.
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