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A “Live and Learn” Experience, or Permanent Uneasiness? Dissecting Consumer Attitudes During a Global Pandemic

As we continue to stay at home, there is no doubt an increase in consumer uncertainty and anxiety, whether it be about health, family, or even something as previously routine as shopping at the grocery store. We are truly living through a once-in-a-lifetime ordeal, and all of us are affected – but we are also all in this together.

April 2020 data from MRI Simmons shows that 86% of Americans have been “somewhat or very much” affected by the pandemic. When asked a follow up question, this group expressed concerns for their own wellbeing, but to a greater degree, their families and the world at large.  

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As with anything in our industry, consumers respond and react very differently to brands, messages, mediums, and so forth. So, you can imagine that while some users are trying their best to cope with COVID-19 and keep a relatively positive attitude, others are nervous and are struggling emotionally. Roughly 1 out of 3 people surveyed by MRI Simmons fit the “nervous” category, and over half of all respondents, regardless of their categorization, stated that they would be much more cautious moving forward once we flatten the curve and slowly begin to shift back to our normal home and work routines.

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Many brands have stopped their ad campaigns, or at the very least, shifted messaging and/or services to accommodate social distancing and government regulations. Whether a home products manufacturer, a car dealership, or a QSR restaurant, brands are updating their messaging, and you may start to see a trend when seeing the spots across TV, YouTube, Twitch and all of your favorite video platforms.

Now, as we progress forward, how do advertisers speak to the “nervous” consumers in their ecosystem vs. those who are more likely to quickly bounce back and are relatively “accepting” of the new normal and making the best of it?

 

Nervous Persona

  • Show your human side. Remind customers that you are there, that we are all connected, that we will get through this together. Maybe you are postponing the due date for customer payments; maybe you are donating meals to the community. Those who are the most anxious will benefit from seeing the good in humanity, no matter how small or large your business.
  • Explain how your business has embraced the new normal. What are you doing with social distancing and how are you going above and beyond in regards to sanitization? How will you protect your customers and their families, especially those with children? Anything that shows you are taking the pandemic seriously and making sure to comply 100% with new regulations will go a long way. The MRI Simmons study found that this type of customer is “least likely to go back to their old ways”, so this is critical.

 

Accepting Persona

  • “We’ve always been there, and we will continue to be there.” This group is already more comfortable and adaptive to change, so highlight your services and your story with phrasing like this. Re-introduce yourself if necessary, but the accepting demographic will just want to be reassured and they will be ready to re-engage once we are through the worst of the pandemic.
  • Be honest that things are going to be different, but they may also be better. The experiences associated with food shopping and summer trips to the beach may be forever changed, but that does not mean it has to be a negative. How will you continue to upgrade your services and physical locations? How will you change or grow your home delivery capabilities? How will you make things more convenient for customers and their families? There may be some positive changes in the way your customers shop or plan, and in how you market to them. Act accordingly, but this percentage of your customer base has more of a “whatever is meant to be will be” mentality and will be open to change.
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