With news emerging of UK pub-chain Wetherspoons halting pay to 43,000 staff and a hotel in Scotland who instantly terminated contracts and evicted employees from their provided accommodation, the way brands are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic is not going unseen.
We are now in what’s been coined “The New Norm” and Seth Godin’s quote, “Don't find customers for your products, find products for your customers” is becoming all the more poignant as many businesses find this time diabolically unsuited to their industry. Here are 3 key trends that are emerging:
Businesses are being forced to think about how they can still maintain relevance amidst a lockdown. Here are some questions to ask yourself and your business:
What skills do we collectively have that we can use to meet people’s needs at this time?
Louis Vuitton is not selling perfume during this pandemic – people just don’t need to smell good at home. However, they’ve used their set of skills to do something important: make hand sanitizers. Louis Vuitton will deliver hand sanitizer to French hospitals for free and honour this commitment for as long as necessary in connection with the French health authorities.
Brands that take steps to protect and provide for customers during such volatility will build a stronger reputation.
What role do I play in all this?
Highlight the importance of CX, Research and Insights because now more than ever, it is important for us all to listen to how people are feeling, so we can act with empathy and understanding.
Consider the skills you have that you can use to play your part. If we were to revert back to the way things were before COVID-19, what will you tell people about your role in this situation? Here are some thought starters:
• Design infographics or animated videos to spread awareness
• Write articles and content for your business
• Use analytical skills to help your business plan ahead
• Use UX skills to help update website and app content with COVID-19 information
• Look out for parents, elderly people, go shopping for those who are vulnerable
• Offer CV writing or free consultations to those who are now looking for work
• Offer free language classes to refugees
• Sign up to Kindsum and become a virtual babysitter
• Offer free mental health sessions to those struggling with anxiety
• Live stream music, cooking or sports and create a following
• Write stories, poetry, create art
2. A Change in Language
At Potentiate, we believe communications need to stay personalised and relevant. Brands will need to think differently about the language they use:
• Don’t send generic messages – This is the time to be more human. Use insight from your community to create targeted and personalised messaging. Test communication content, design and subject lines with your Insight Community before launching.
• Don’t refer to this as an “opportunity” – It’s certainly possible to draw a positive out of this situation but that will not negate the suffering many people are feeling as they lose loved ones or find themselves unemployed. Brands will need to find a balance between optimism and sensitivity.
• Review programmatic advertising – Be sure that the language used in advertising scheduled before COVID-19 became a Pandemic is up to date, relevant and sensitive. Remove any adverts pushing inappropriate products, travel or events.
I’ve been inspired by brands that are creating connections with customers in unique ways under the current circumstances:
Understand people’s needs and act with compassion
Think about what will make people’s lives easier at this time, now is not the time to sell. One recent example was when Foxtel, an Australian paid TV company, offered subscribers free access to Drama Extra, Kids and Documentary channels to provide entertainment to those in lockdown – particularly children.
Optus create digital connections in Australia. The internet has become our lifeline as we strive to stay connected to colleagues, classmates, family and friends. CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin created human connection in her COVID-19 communications. Her email steered away from generic statements; Kelly told customers “We know there are going to be bigger demands on our network – and we are prepared for this…and know that with the access we provide, you will never be isolated.”
Skin Care brand Aesop also opted for human connection and informed customers that “passers-by are welcome to use our sinks and soaps to wash their hands”. They implored us to “look out for those around you who may be at risk—whether by checking that an elderly neighbour’s cupboards are well stocked; extending support and warmth to an anxious relative; or by picking up the phone to a friend cooped up at home with kids.”
Connecting with Insight Community Members
Maru Matchbox have reported that “response rates have increased significantly since the start of the crisis, up several points in the past week in the US, UK and Canada”. Where previously Insight Communities were competing for attention, social distancing could increase engagement with surveys and forums. Pay extra attention to make sure questions are sensitive and consider adding an option for members to opt out of research for a temporary period.
How is Potentiate helping?
We've just released our perspective on the role of brands & insights during a pandemic. We're also working with our clients to evolve, update, and pivot their programs to reflect the current climate.
We are here to advise and support you with all your research needs. Should you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .