4 ways brands can act upon the changing reality

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing life as we know it across the world, with the absence of normality transforming consumer behaviour and shaping new consumption habits.

For global brands, this new reality creates a significant dilemma. How do you connect with consumers during immense economic and behavioural disruption? How do you act upon the changing (consumer) context to stay relevant?

More than ever, brands must stay close to consumers and embrace consumer collaboration, in order to immerse themselves in these ever-changing realities. The time is now for brands to learn and adapt to stay relevant. Online insight communities can help brands identify and contextualize emerging needs, frictions and aspirations… and act upon it.

Based on proprietary social listening & consumer trends research, we identified four ways in which brands are reacting to changing consumer needs to play a relevant role in consumers’ lives.

Adapting existing business models

Several brands are deprioritising business as usual, gearing manufacturing lines towards the production of critical public health items to support overstretched systems. Moving to frontline roles, automotive companies are collaborating to rapidly prototype and design protective devices.

In the UK, a collective of Formula 1 teams, including McLaren and Ferrari, are working with the health authorities to increase the supply of ventilators. Similarly, Ford, Tesla Motors and General Motors are making respiratory aids in the US.

Online conversations are praising these companies that are undertaking Public Service roles to deliver solutions that support societal needs.

“Zara are making scrubs for Spain’s hospitals, Kurt Geiger are giving away all spare shoes to NHS staff, and Louis Vuitton are mass-producing hand sanitizer to be given away amid global shortages.” Source Twitter (via our Social Intelligence analysis).

Supporting local communities

Living through this moment of crisis is sharpening our focus on the things that truly matter. We are forced to reposition our relationships with each other and with our communities.

Airbnb’s new initiative will subsidise hosts to offer free or subsidized housing for 100,000 healthcare workers globally.

“This is real leadership. It’s a brutal time for the travel/ hospitality industry… To step up in that moment and ask how you can help others? Respect.” Source Twitter (via our Social Intelligence analysis).

French grocery retailer Carrefour’s ‘lifestyle essentials’ scheme with Spanish on-demand delivery start-up Glovo recorded a 1,000% sales increase from March 9 to 20 in Italy. The initiative ships essentials from food stores to pharmacies in 30 minutes or less, across European and Latin American cities.

Prioritising people before profit is not going unnoticed by consumers, who publicly spotlight #employeesaints, laying the foundations for long-term commercial wins.

Educating audiences

Now more than ever, transparency is essential to make consumers feel secure. In India, Dettol has launched a #HandwashChallenge via TikTok to deliver a smart marketing message that places education first, and product promotion second. This creative and surprising response has cemented the brand’s role, making a functional product relevant to new audiences.

In the US, the ‘Stay at Home’ campaign from the children’s TV show Sesame Street is offering much-needed support to parents trying to navigate their children through this confusing time.

“Parents and healthcare colleagues, @sesamestreet has our back during the pandemic!” Source Twitter (via our Social Intelligence analysis).

Creatively reframing product offers

With all non-essential shops closing across the globe, brands are adapting their portfolios, either via new product formats, or by extending digital availability to stay connected with existing customers, and reach new audiences. Teaming up with brands in adjacent categories is proving a novel way to unlock new opportunities.

In China, e-commerce giant JD.com is joining forces with alcohol brands Budweiser, Rémy Martin, Carlsberg and Pernod Ricard for a weekly livestream club event. With viewers able to buy the featured brands online, a promoted liquor brand has experienced a 70% sales boost.

Elsewhere, global sportswear giant Nike is adapting to the current climate by offering free workout and health content to help health-conscious consumers maintain their exercise and diet routines throughout the lockdown.

“I love these Nike ads about playing inside. The marketing is top notch. I’m about to go buy me some resistance bands today. Great message from Nike!!” Source Twitter (via our Social Intelligence analysis).

The key takeaway?

These extraordinary times demand from all businesses that they learn and adapt, regardless of their size, industry or sector. Brands must constantly re-evaluate their own situation, and ultimately take a (re)active approach that grows along with the developing needs of their audience. Online insight communities can help brands keep the finger on the pulse, by identifying and contextualizing unmet needs, frictions and aspirations, to enter a mode of fast decision making.

Consumer collaboration helps brands navigate through this uncertain landscape, moving from ‘pause’ to ‘play’ by staying connected.

Our dedicated COVID-19 online community approach

To help brands navigate through these fickle times, we’ve created a dedicated COVID-19 online community approach. Intrigued? Get in touch and we’d be happy to start the conversation and listen to your challenges!

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