Communication in crisis
When crisis hits it throws everything up in the air. When an unforeseen pandemic lands, then our first thought is to throw everything out the window. However, as we witness a new chapter of history unfold, it is important to pair our media efficiency with humanity. This is a chance for brands to come closer to their consumers and colleagues by simply being on the same side.
Brands pulling back will not earn respect from consumers. Those brands who remain visible can create special, lasting bonds. Of course, media is more than pure visibility. It is about human behavior. Energy needs to shift from a pure product focus to three key areas:
1. Ethical, social and environmental topics
2. Share of voice corporate and brand campaigns which boost desire
3. Optimistic, forward-facing campaigns which look to a brighter future together
For there is light at the end of the tunnel. A powerful recovery of consumption is on the horizon. When that new day comes, only the brands who were open and honest with consumers will be the ones remembered and cherished.
The Corona pandemic is disrupting public life. The necessity of staying at home and "social distancing" is a new situation people find themselves in now.
The changing circumstances have significant impact on people's life and daily routines. Private time spent and the consumption of media are one of major aspects.
Stay-at-home-consumers massively increase their usage of certain media channels. Predominantly TV and online channels benefit, whereas OOH or Cinema is mostly affected (obviously).
We notice similar media consumption trends in Europe as well.
TV is seeing a huge increase in reach and view time. Target group adults 14-59: Contrary to the general trend of further decreasing TV reaches in Germany (2020 vs 2019) the current situation both induces people to increase TV consumtion and brings new customer groups back to TV. This results in increasing reach. Online usage is increased and shifted heavily towards news content. Increased interest in news has a positive effect on print as well. Moreover, esports and streaming are rapidly growing.
The current demand is essentially affected by two factors.
1. Political restrictions: stay at home orders, closed shops, travel restrictions.
2. Economical destabilazation: changed consumer behaviour, existential fear, low income.
The most urgently perceived needs move further down the pyramid of needs.
Hierarchy levels one and two can be largely satisfied even during the current crisis (in Germany).
In some cases, some foods are not available.
People are increasingly concerned about their health (still at a low level).
From hierarchy level three (social needs) onwards people notice an obvious deficit.
Curfews prevent people from meeting each other.
Relatives in nursing homes can no longer be visited.
Easter cannot be celebrated as usual.
Individual needs are still present but are increasingly pushed into the background. Considering the comparative/absolute lack of lower needs, self-fulfillment has a (strong) secondary importance.
People remember traditional values during the crisis: Major parties benefit, traditional news platforms (vs. Facebook). Further increasing values: trust (+55%), responsibility (+52%), solidarity (+48%). This can also be seen, for example, in current online purchasing behavior (e.g. Trusted Shops seal of approval): The number of orders with completed buyer protection has increased by an average of 23 percent per day. The number of new registrations for the basic (+ 41 percent) as well as the fee-based premium membership (+ 68 percent) has skyrocketed.
Luxury: BCG expects a decrease in turnover of 20-25% in the luxury sector in 2020.
The current situation reveals a unique and valuable opportunity for brands to create a higher "proximity" to consumers. Content and messaging are key: they need to address the right tonality and relevance!
• Previous crisis events show a consistent pattern of outbreak, recovery & stabilization.
• However, not each industry will recover quickly as they each have different pressures.
• Internet players are taking larger shares and accelerating their growth.
To utilize the current situation brands should change the way they sell to clients.
• Online to offline: Buy online pick-up offline.
• Livestream: Find a new interactive way to tell your story and get fans’ attention.
• Social hot topics: Dive deep into the situation, from fans angles and create relevant actions and content to gain their trust.
Winning brands have a more than twice as high share of (product) innovations during the crisis (vs. losing brands) and significantly increase their media spends compared to pre-crisis levels.
The needs of the higher stages become progressively more important during the recovery phase. People are gradually returning to their pre-crisis behavior. Due to the better foundation (of lower levels), the focus on the needs of the upper categories (individual needs, self-fulfilment) increases.
Brands need to understand what role they can play during the different phases. To do this, it is important to consider not only changing consumer needs but also the supply situation or available distribution channels. In the current crisis there is a maximum divergence between people's needs and what is available (e.g. toilet paper, meeting friends). With the onset of recovery, the needs and supply become larger and more congruent.
Important: Communication must begin before the natural demand begins to rise again.
- Redesign consumer journey and model
- Monitor and refine media mix according to consumers’ modified media behavior
- Adapt content around consumers’ interest points
- Change messaging to communicate the brand rather than products
- Establish a differentiated media plan for the time when brands from all categories return to advertising.
- Use a positive tonality that builds on suppressed consumer needs during crisis.
- Re-establish distinctive brand value.
- Constantly monitor changed consumer habits and offer solutions accordingly.
- Say thank you and celebrate the journey the brand took together with its consumers.
Adjust media mix to meet the changed media consumption habits caused by the Corona crisis.
- Awareness: Change brand messaging when a brands’ product category is currently lacking attention from consumers.
- Interest: Identify current and new demands. Don’t promote product categories not delivering consumer benefits during the crisis.
- Decision: During crisis consumers will concentrate on essential products. After recovery consumers are likely to act faster to satisfy suppressed demands.
- Action: Offer buying channels that are most convenient for consumers during crisis.