The world has changed. If you haven’t noticed that for yourself already, every piece of industry content written since March will happily tell you as much. Consequently, it’s a given that any media plan drawn up before lockdown is now redundant. With much of the available research data now out of date, exactly how we cope with this shift and plan effective campaigns that reach people whose lives have been so significantly disrupted has for some time been a subject of open debate.

As we move further from the fulcrum of lockdown however, the scale of this swing away from “normal” is being quantified and qualified by an increasingly robust and interesting range of consumer research. Rather than just remarking on the change having happened, we can now begin to understand exactly what has shifted and how far, and more importantly, we can use this knowledge to inform our planning.

With this in mind, we looked at the latest research from Kantar to unearth some actionable insights.

The most predictable change to media consumption has been borne out by the research; we are seeing a dramatic rise in digital behaviour with people watching more video content online, listening to more podcasts and consuming more social media content. The same research shows that the share of e-commerce has doubled since lockdown and brands need to establish new ways to reach these audiences in these different times.

People are also looking to try new things. Richard Shotton, a behavioural scientist, has spoken about how people are 2.5 times more likely to try a new brand if they have recently undergone a major life event such as getting married or moving to a new house. This pandemic we are facing is a huge life event that has impacted everyone, and brands now find themselves with an opportunity to differentiate themselves, an opportunity to potentially redefine the values that they stand for. This not only places them in a position to build new relationships with potential new customers, but also solidify the ones that they already have.

Some of the ways that brands can look at doing this include:

  • Acknowledging that people have changed
  • Moving quickly
  • Being positive
  • Staying true to your brand

A good example of this is the Heinz ‘Breakfast isn’t going anywhere’ campaign that was set up in response to schools closing due to COVID-19. Working with a non-profit organisation partner called Magic Breakfast, they committed to providing 12 million free meals to the children who would usually benefit from Magic Breakfast’s breakfast club programmes. This was a hugely positive campaign that not only retained relevance (given the situation at the time), but also showcased Heinz’s values as a brand.

According to Kantar, this led to Heinz being placed in the top 10% for purchase intent. Not only does this demonstrate how important relevance is, but it also shows that – when delivered in the right way – it can have a huge impact on audience perception.

Another key benefit of this campaign is the positivity generated by it, and it is this that will make an even bigger impact with audiences today. At a time where there is still so much uncertainty – and with the growing feeling that these changes may be here to stay – positivity is important. Research from Hearst indicates that the power of positivity can result in an 18% increase in brand favourability and a 35% increase in purchase intent. Consumers have high expectations for brands to guide the way and provide optimism for the future.

Brands need to act quickly in these changed times, and with audiences consuming more media than ever they need to be able to cut through the clutter, engage and grab consumers’ attention. They need to highlight their core values to solidify the current relationships they have built and put them in a prime position to build new ones. If brands want to grow, they need to have the ability to plan for the now and to get to know their audiences all over again.

At Space & Time, we are always working towards a data driven strategy, analysing all aspects of campaign activity to provide insights that further develop our understanding and planning. This enables us to keep our clients up to date and informed and puts them in a position to best engage with their audiences in a more meaningful and relevant way.

If you would like to identify new target audiences and help with shaping your marketing strategies, please get in contact with a member of our team.

Joe Hayden-Delaney, Account Manager