Over the past few months, COVID-19 has been described as the ‘great leveller’. Although many have debunked this label due to the virus’s disproportionate impact on certain communities, the idea that we’ve all been impacted in the same way has led to a lack of nuance in the way brands have approached their recent comms.
Put simply, some brands have failed to consider their audience or their product when planning their brand communication in response to COVID-19. We have all seen the generic ads. The tinkling of a piano, the smiling faces on Zoom, the ‘unprecedented times.’ This approach lacks empathy at best and is boring at worst, the cardinal sin for marketing.
COVID-19 Considerations For Brand Communication
Research undertaken by The Futures Lab paints a different picture regarding the differences in attitudes towards COVID-19. Take age as an example. There are stark differences in opinions towards COVID-19 in those aged under 45 years old versus those over 45. The following statistics are taken from YouGov and represent statistically significant differences between demographics:
- 19% of under 45s say they are not coping well with the current situation compared to 8% of over 45s
- 51% of under 45s are worried about their financial situation compared to 42% of over 45s
There are differences between the attitudes of men and women also:
- 76% of women describe themselves as worried about their family’s health compared to 65% of men
- 45% of men say they are not scared of COVID-19 compared to 30% of women
And differences between social groups:
- 39% of ABC1 are not worried about losing their job compared to 30% of C2DE
It is simply not true to assume all people have been impacted by COVID-19 in the same way. It is essential for brands to consider this when planning their next steps. The short term is over. The time has come for long-term thinking. There are big opportunities for those who embrace the nuance and connect with consumers in a more targeted, personal, authentic way.
As we emerge from lockdown, while the average person may still be hesitant to venture out, younger demographics are desperate to return to the social environments. This provides a great opportunity for brands to connect more deeply with their audience by pioneering the return of experiential marketing and in-person experiences with the appropriate social distancing and sanitisation measures in place. When it comes to marketing, it is always good to be distinctive. However, for some brands, it essential to push forward and create the new world. Especially when it’s what their audience is demanding.
Vaughan Edmonds is Planner at Sense.
The Futures Lab by Sense examines changing consumer behaviour to understand how people and brands can continue to connect in the real world.
This article first appeared in Advertising Week.