Brands and consumer sentiments during Covid2019

This is the time when the boys will turn into men, and brands will mature to super brands

The Covid2019 pandemic is something that has affected the entire globe. Since the initial spread of the pandemic in India, the announcement of lockdown, and the scenario in the present day, consumer behaviour has undergone a drastic shift and driven purely by the changing emotions that this pandemic is causing with each passing day.

The sentiments of concern, safety and care for their near and dear ones are the most dominant ones. The fear of getting infected with the virus, having enough essential supplies, losing loved ones, the wavering economic conditions, or just job security is dominating everyone’s mind.

There are two major emotions that have come out of the Covid2019: anxiety and hope.

“You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control what you do about it.” A very old saying, but most apt for the given situation that the world is finding out. As communicators, we believe that this is true for brands as well.

In times of crisis, misinformation and speculation get multiplied given the growth of the WhatsApp generation. This in itself is one of the biggest causes of anxiety that the consumers base as a whole is subject to. According to a recent study done by Kantar, 75 per cent of the respondents felt that brands should not exploit the health crisis to promote their products and brands. An equal number of people also speak about expectations from brands to be helpful and support in these times.

It is our firm belief that in times of crisis such as this, a brand should simply go back to the drawing board and ensure that they do the basics right. This is also a time where all your stakeholders, external as well as internal, are looking to the brand for that ray of hope where they get the confidence that everything will eventually fall in place.

Some thoughts that we are following and recommending our brands to follow as well.

Redraw communication plans: The communication strategy and approach of brands is undergoing a radical change during these times. We believe that it is time for marketers to leave behind their focus towards selling and bring in basic values in their messaging. As a communication partner, we have been working with the brands under our custodianship to focus more on their purpose rather than their products.

Reflection of values: The brand communication needs to have a reflection of values such as empathy towards others, sensitivity to the situation, relevance to the topic, show of care and compassion, and thorough transparency. This is also the time in communication when consumers are forming an opinion on the brands based on their ability to appreciate the hardships that the world faces.

Be helpful: At this point of time, there are going to be a lot of frustrated souls out there. Those who are walking the 1000 miles or those who are locked up in their houses, no matter what their state, they are confused and troubled. Brands that are going to be helpful will be remembered for a long time even after this pandemic. These are times to earn loyal followers.

Communicate only if required: It is essential for brands to understand that being relevant is the key. Push strategy will definitely not work in this hour. It is crucial to have minimal yet a powerful communication with your audiences.

Communicate Internally: Crisis communication internally is as important as external. Don’t avoid communicating internally about risks and challenges faced by the business in these trying times. Ensure that the entire hierarchy understands the position and communicates the same across board.

Educating consumers: Not every brand is going to be directly impacted with Covid2019, but at the same time no brand is going to stay untouched, either. Some industries will see a surge in demand while some face real hardships. The brands must act as an influencer and participate in relevant and necessary communication which educates the customer as well as helps them see through these times.

We are going through uncertain times and the constant rising death numbers aren’t doing any good to our morale. However, this is also the time when the boys will turn into men, and brands will mature to super brands and communication will play a very big role in this journey.

Be safe. Be responsible.   

(The writer is managing director at IdeateLabs. The views expressed are his own and may not subscribe to them.)

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