Consumers Say Brand Actions Through COVID-19 Impact Perception

New Study Finds Brand Responses to Pandemic Crisis Predict Staying Power

Nearly 6 in 10 consumers (58%) say the COVID-19 situation has impacted their view of brands, according to the recent COVID-19 Brand Sentiment Navigator Report, released by engagement technology company, Social Media Link. In a survey of more than 6,000, consumers say the best action brands can take to receive positive marks is to keep customers (58%) and employees (55%) safe. Additionally, showing empathy (40%), recognizing the new normal (38%), extending benefits (35%) and reassuring communication (32%) led to positive sentiments.

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“This is a critical time for brands to imprint themselves in consumers’ minds that will ensure staying power through the crisis and beyond,” says Susan Frech, CEO, Social Media Link. “This survey suggests now is the time for brands to show, not tell, how much they live out their brand promise and values.”

Industries that have gotten a positive boost include Grocery (49%), Food/Beverage (37%), Cleaning Products (33%), Restaurants (33%), Pharmacy (29%), Video Streaming (24%). Whereas Airline/Travel (16%), Bars (7%), Banks/Finance (7%) have taken a sentiment hit. Consumers called out specific brands positively (Disney+, Costco, Whole Foods) while others were called out negatively (Hobby Lobby, Game Stop, Walmart).

Opportunistic behaviors will not be tolerated by consumers

Brands get low marks for price gouging (21%), failing to keep employees (18%) and customers (17%) safe, failing to show empathy (15%), and doing nothing to benefit the community (15%).

Online communities provide an outlet for connection

Close to one-third (29%) are turning to online communities for connection.

“Consumers are spending more time with digital channels than ever. Brands should no longer consider these outlets vehicles for blasting out messages, but rather tools for creating connections that will endure,” Frech adds.

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Younger consumers experience mental health effects of social distancing; technology offers an outlet

Forty-two percent of consumers feel lonely. Among Gen Z, this number rose to 59%. Consumers stay connected through social media (80%), phone calls (75%), as well as video calls being utilized by 41% of respondents.

After the crisis, shopping online will stick. Certain categories will see a boost.

Consumers anticipate spending more on Health & Wellness (34%), Cleaning/Sanitary products (31%), Shopping online (29%), and Going out to Bars/Restaurants (21%).

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