Following our previous blog ‘Covid-19 and the impact of changing consumer behaviour for brands’, James Spencer, one of our Account Directors, has dialled into the second instalment of webinars hosted by Kantar on the impact Covid-19 will have on brands. Here are James’s key take-outs.

How the situation has developed since Covid-19

Since lockdown was announced by Boris Johnson on 23rd March, it is fair to say that our lives are much different to what they were before.

Restrictions placed on UK public have had a profound effect on us all. This unprecedented level of disruption requires us to adjust to a ‘new normal’.

Disruption

It is important for brands to understand how people’s behaviour is evolving, and how this evolution should shape marketing efforts.

Disruption is nothing new to us. We have experienced disruption before, just as we did after the financial crash of 2008. However, this is different…

We are not only being faced with one of the deepest global recessions in history, we are dealing with enforced lockdowns and isolationism in a world filled with new and more advanced technology than ever before.

Consumer behaviour and brand opportunity

Under government restrictions, consumers have shown an openness to trying new things. We are being creative and resourceful in how we use digital channels to facilitate our work, hobbies and social lives.

According to Kantar’s research, key emerging trends across Social Media, suggest people are seeking:

  • Solidarity and strength by voicing words of encouragement and building a sense of togetherness
  • Positive habits which demonstrate emotional wellness and new habits that make people feel good about themselves
  • Learning (and making) to do more of the things they don’t always have time to and re-engage with creative pursuits and passions

You will have seen this for yourself in that the public’s interest in health and hygiene, local communities, self-sufficiency and even banana bread has increased. A quick win for brands would be to simply get involved and consider these trends when communicating to their consumers.

Putting others first – brands and people

Kantar’s research suggests consumers’ sense of vulnerability is also increasing. As people seek solidarity and strength through social channels, they are doing so by expressing concerns for others as opposed to themselves. People are putting others before themselves! And they expect brands to do the same.

In our previous blog we spoke about the importance of brands advertising for the future. Brands should be seen putting others before them. Some brands may have changed their logo to show support, but will it be enough after the novelty has worn off?

Fear gap and brand responsibility

Kantar’s research suggests that there is a growing fear as 87% of consumers surveyed say they are now concerned about the current situation. Brands can help reduce concern by showing they care, by being helpful and leading by example.

Fashion brands such as Burberry and drinks brand Brew Dog have utilised their factories to help provide necessary supplies to the NHS. This has promoted solidarity and has received praise.

However, brands must be realistic. Recent announcements suggest we are facing a new shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and that too much emphasis has been placed on high-profile names who are not as well equipped as smaller textile specialists. Whether this will have a negative impact, is yet to be known.

Of course, not all businesses and brands have huge warehouses and factories at their disposal. But all businesses and brands can help, whether they are big or small.

How is this changing purchase intent?

Kantar’s research shows that our biggest concern is the economy. 63% of people said they are concerned and nearly 6 in 10 of us said they are now feeling an impact on their income.

It is not surprising then, how people’s buyer behaviour has changed. Kantar’s research showed that a majority of in-market consumers for more expensive items and longer-term investments are looking to delay or cancel their purchases.

Despite this however, new opportunities are presenting themselves.

Kantar’s research shows that there is an emerging group of new entrants to various markets (incl.  Travel, Property, Financial, Electronics & Entertainment) made up of people who were not planning on purchasing prior to Covid-19 but are now thinking about it.

It appears that some people are not deterred by the Covid-19 shutdown, and brands must not lose sight of this. It is important to plan carefully and find meaningful ways to maintain communication with consumers.

We will continue to see changes in media consumption habits, even after this has ended. But what have we seen so far?

At-home experiences will of course be more valuable than out-of-home experiences for the foreseeable future. We have seen print newspaper and OOH advertising decline whilst we have seen TV (both live and streaming), radio and online platforms usage increase.

Covid-19 has also been deflationary: with increased inventory and straitened ad revenues, Facebook has seen a dramatic decrease in terms of both costs per click and CPM. Thus, allowing advertisers to take advantage of low advertising costs.

Disruption can also accelerate trends and bring new opportunities. Comscore predicted that 50% of searches will be voice activated by 2020. Will this increase and what opportunities will it bring to brands, big and small? We will expand on media consumption habits in our next blog so stay tuned.

Careful scenario planning

Echoing Fiona’s points in our previous blog post, Covid-19 is changing consumer behaviour in ways we have never seen before.

As businesses and brands plan for different scenarios they should consider:

  • Getting involved with emerging trends across digital platforms
  • How expectations of public role for businesses and brands will accelerate
  • New potential customers emerging out of Covid19 shutdown
  • How media consumption habits will continue to change

Careful scenario planning will help put brands in the best position to tackle the downturn we face after current restrictions have been lifted.

If you would like to discuss how you can futureproof your business, please get in contact with a member of the team.