Report: Brand Management in the COVID-19 Era
The coronavirus pandemic is the most complex and multifaceted threat that leaders in business have faced in the 21st century. Americans are deeply anxious about the state of affairs, are responding severely and quickly to new developments, and are looking for leadership.
Companies have a clear opportunity to be there for customers when the chips are down and, in doing so, build their foundation for substantial long-term brand equity gains. While breaking through beyond established customer bases will be difficult for most under these circumstances, consumers are expressing a relatively high degree of forgiveness as organizations adjust to the economic shutdown and society settles into this new normal.
Proactively communicating with, appropriately connecting with and authentically comforting your audience have the potential to translate to everything from increased affinity in the short-term to unbreakable loyalty in the long-term.
- Understand developments in buying behavior, consumption preferences, and overall attitudes, as well as brand sentiment, especially which behavioral and attitudinal changes are going to be permanent —ongoing insight on changing consumer dynamics is imperative as the situation continues to evolve and potentially sticky habits form.
- Consider the implications of actions taken today on consumer relationships tomorrow — when trust can be broken in a moment, real-time insight on what’s working and what’s not, as well as how actions will be viewed by consumers in the long term, is especially critical, particularly along dimensions that matter most like relevance and trust.
- Put people — your customers, staff, and ideally society as a whole — before proﬁts to build affinity today, trust into the future, and loyalty for the long-term.
- Whether through products that make people’s lives easier or in broader aid to combat the crisis, it’s no longer about talking about values, it’s about demonstrating them — show how you are helping.
- Forget about being overly feel-good, and instead act with both empathy, keeping promises, providing useful information, and making sacriﬁces to contribute to the greater good, and authenticity — “rubber hits the road” applications of purpose will go farther than talk.
- Show you are taking this situation seriously by acknowledging the social, ﬁnancial and other realities of this pandemic, empathizing with people’s concerns, and offering practical solutions.
- Stay in touch with your humanity by widening your aperture to stakeholders, not just shareholders — help your customers as fellow people, treat your employees fairly and with dignity, and contribute to the greater good of society to drive both greater likelihood of purchase today, and also consumer choice into the future.
- Above all, whether by serving customers in new ways, implementing new procedures to protect their well-being, or making an effort to help the broader situation, don’t disengage from the moment.
This report is based on quantitative research conducted among 2,200 adult Americans on March 28-29,2020, in addition to analysis of Morning Consult’s Brand Intelligence data, comprising thousands of daily interviews on over 2,000 brands.