This Is What Consumers Want Brands to Do on Social Media Right Now

In the coronavirus era, consumers aren’t responding to the same marketing messages as they once did.

In Kantar’s first COVID-19 barometer, based on a survey of over 25,000 people in 32 countries, the consultancy found that 77% of respondents are looking for brands to help them through their “new everyday life.”

Consumers want to continue to hear from brands as they live through these challenging times, with only 8% of respondents saying they prefer brands go dark on social media. But three-quarters of those surveyed said companies should not “exploit” the crisis to promote their products or services. Seventy percent of respondents said they appreciate a “reassuring” tone from communication at this time, while 40% of respondents said a “humorous” tone is what they’re looking for.

Additionally, three-fourths of people surveyed want brands to provide information about what they’re doing “to face the situation.” The consultancy found that four in five respondents want to support brands that are looking after their employees’ health, and 62% of those surveyed want companies to offer flexible working arrangements during this time.

During the coronavirus crisis, more than 90% of Americans are living in states or localities under stay-at-home orders. Over 16 million people have filed jobless claims over the past three weeks, with some experts indicating that the unemployment rate could rise to over 30%. Major fashion and footwear players have had to make difficult decisions, with companies including Macy’s, Nordstrom and Dick’s Sporting Goods implementing executive pay cuts and furloughing a percentage of their workforce.

While some have argued that escapism is a necessity in a time of crisis, experts tell FN that brands are better off taking a deeper approach to their social media marketing right now.

“Figure out a way to create goodwill and lock in arm in arm with consumers so that after this difficult period, the consumer base will remember,” Marc Beckman, CEO and founder of advertising agency DMA United, told FN. “We’re living in a time where digital consumers in particular are less loyal than ever before. It would be very powerful for brands to make decisions from a marketing perspective that will resonate with the consumer after this crisis.”

Erin Allweiss, co-founder of PR agency The No. 29, shared a similar sentiment, noting that: “People are looking for added meaning right now.”

“Having a very thoughtful approach to being transparent with customers is the best thing you can do right now,” she said. “Plus, people are at home. They really want to be learning. Share your story about your team members, who you are, talk about process. You can escape through beautiful products but still acknowledge the moment that we’re in.”

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