What Do Consumers Want to Hear from Brands? Coronavirus Edition

Content Marketing

During today’s crisis consumers are looking for advice from institutions, including brands and publishers, that they trust and help make them feel safe. Many brands still remember the recession of last decade and view our current crisis in a similar fashion. However, the two moments in economic history are quite different. The recession of last decade was a top-down financial crisis.

Today, the challenge brands are having is due to large and sudden declines in activity across several industries, including the financial sector. What’s not in decline is consumers’ thirst for helpful content online. Many brands have taken a “pause” in their marketing and advertising and it seems they’re trying to catch their breath.

According to the World Federation of Advertisers, 79% of companies are creating new messaging that responds directly to the impact of the Coronavirus. However, at the same time, 81% of marketers from major multinationals are pausing planned paid media campaigns. Clear, honest and truthful communications internally and externally are more important than ever. As this new owned media begins to publish it will be imperative for brands to amplify it by turning paid media budgets back on.

The above is from a brand’s perspective. What do consumers think? According to Kantar, 77% of consumers expect brands to be helpful in what is the new “everyday life.” Only eight percent of consumers feel brands should stop advertising. Brands that continued to spend on advertising and marketing during last decade’s recession remained the strongest and recovered the fastest afterward.

“There is a risk of losing brand equity when advertising goes dark, and an opportunity to use this time to build and reinforce a brand’s relationship with their customers and prospects.”

-Jason Kanefsky, chief investment officer at Havas Media

As a result, content marketing is more important than ever. According to Nudge, attention for online content is 39% greater during this pandemic than before. Those brands that wish to stay relevant must be producing appropriate content for the multitude of online consumers and prospects out there online. Here are some considerations brands should take into account moving forward:

  • Genuine Need – Audiences are looking for answers upon facing new challenges
  • Reallocate Budgets – Content builds relationships and nurtures consumers’ pent up demand while their brick and mortar activity are paused
  • Fuel Virtual Events – High-performing content from blogs and social channels can be repurposed into virtual events
  • PR and Advocacy – Combat false information and share what the brand is doing to help

When creating content during this crisis here are four ways brands can deliver the helpful information consumers are searching for:

  1. Acknowledge the new reality
  2. Provide credible, detailed and current information
  3. Regularly update communications across channels
  4. Be flexible and help customers with cancellations, refunds and customer service

According to Google, there are five new search behaviors bubbling up right now from consumers. It’s not surprising that people are looking for new information during this time. This information can help brands plan content during the pandemic. The search behaviors include:

  1. Assembling critical information and content they need to get by
  2. Discovering new connections and nurturing relationships
  3. Adjusting to changes in their routines
  4. Praising everyday heroes
  5. Taking care of themselves and others

It’s been shown that consumers want helpful and empathetic content during these times. In addition, they’re spending more time online looking for it. Brands have two choices – be a part of that conversation or not be a part of that conversation. That decision will likely have a lasting impact post-Coronavirus on said brand. History tells us that now is the time to double down on marketing and advertising, not pausing it. Proctor & Gamble realizes this and has increased it’s spending $240 million YoY. Your fans and future fans want your content. Will you deliver or let your brand lose equity with consumers?

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