While most cities and towns across the U.S. are encouraged to stay home, brands across all industries are having to transform not only their messaging, but for some, what their business has to offer. Some brand categories are being hit harder than others, such as entertainment, travel, dining, fitness classes, museums and attractions. While everyone is at home, practicing social distancing and are concerned with staying healthy, brands need to address this new climate head-on to stay relevant. Brands are encouraged to find a way to provide value during this time of isolation as well as a “feel good” message to alleviate stress and anxiety that the pandemic has brought on. Brands must be seen as useful for consumers, right now.
Many brands have already developed new offerings to accommodate the current situation, such as providing virtual tours, virtual concerts, virtual exercise classes, delivery service and more online capabilities. In a similar way, advertising dollars can be adjusted to accommodate the change in media consumption seen across demographics. Only a few weeks ago consumers were outside of their homes, exposed to messages on billboards and other modes of transportation, but now they are spending more time with TV, streaming video, audio, gaming platforms and social media while at home.
A new report from Kantar measures consumer attitudes, media consumption habits, purchase behavior and expectations from brands during the COVID-19 outbreak. The study released on March 25 surveyed over 25,000 consumers across 30 markets around the world affected by COVID-19 from March 14 to March 23. Right now, consumers are spending increased time with TV, online platforms, social networks and messaging apps. Across social platforms, there are recurrent themes that are driving conversations among consumers. These include using memes for more serious topics, a longing for nature, sharing “cozy” content of their homes with their pets, adjusting to digital work and digital social lives, as well as sharing their “new essentials” for social isolation.
The challenge for brands is how to connect with consumers right now in this current climate. According to the Kantar report, consumers are looking for brands to be “genuine”, make the safety of their employees a top priority, and to make donations to support medical care and research. We suggest that advertisers continue their campaigns to stay top-of-mind for consumers, while adjusting their message and media mix to the current situation. In fact, Kantar reports that only less than 10% of consumers say that brands should stop advertising. We see a huge opportunity to connect with audiences while they are consuming more digital and video content than before. Many consumers have more time than usual to engage with media platforms right now, and brands can benefit from that if they are nimble in their efforts to stay relevant and present with their target audience. With the understanding of consumers’ current concerns and media consumption behaviors, brands have an opportunity to connect with their audiences right now in innovative and meaningful ways.