60% Indians who were surveyed for a trust barometer report by Edelman said they have recently started using a new brand because of the innovative or compassionate way they have responded to the coronavirus outbreak. The report said about 80% consumers’ purchase will depend on how well a brand responds to the crisis.
The study titled ‘Edelman Special Report: Brand Trust and the Coronavirus Pandemic’ that was conducted among 12,000 respondents in 12 markets including India between March 23 – 26 looked at how consumers expect brands to act during these tumultuous times.
The key findings from the report:
Brands are critical to winning the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
- Nearly two in three respondents (62% globally and 65% in India) don’t believe their country will make it through the crisis without brands playing a critical role in addressing its challenges.
- 90% want brands to partner with government and relief agencies to address the crisis, with 59% Indians saying that brands must do this to earn or keep their trust.
Consumers are looking to brands to protect their employees at all costs.
- 90% of respondents want brands to do everything they can to protect the well-being and financial security of their employees and suppliers, even if it means suffering big financial losses until the pandemic ends. 55% say brands must do this if they want to earn or keep their trust.
- Nearly three-quarters of Indian respondents (73%) said brands and companies that place their profits before people during this crisis will lose their trust forever.
Consumers want brands to be creative problem solvers.
- In India, nearly nine in 10 respondents (88%) want brands to shift to producing new products that help people meet the unique challenges of life during a pandemic, with 57% saying that brands must do this to earn or keep their trust.
- 67% said they are not paying attention to new products and services right now unless they are designed to help with pandemic-related life challenges.
- Nearly nine in 10 (87%) want brands to offer free or lower-priced products and services to health workers and high-risk people, with another 57% saying that brands must do this to earn or keep their trust.
Consumers want to hear from brands about what they’re doing to respond to the pandemic.
- Nearly nine in 10 India respondents (88%) say they want to be fully informed about how a brand is protecting employees and customers, and an almost similar amount (86%) want brands to keep the public fully informed about changes in how the brand is operating and in how to gain access to its products and services.
- 87% want brands to serve as a reliable news source about the virus and the progress of the fight against it, with 54% saying that brands must do this to earn or keep their trust.
- 86% want brands to serve as an educator with instructional information about the virus and how people can protect themselves, with 55% saying that brands must do this to earn or keep their trust.
Consumers are looking to brands to bring people together.
- 84% want brands to connect people and help them stay emotionally close, with over half (45%) saying that brands must do this to earn or keep their trust.
- 86% want brands to use social media channels to foster community and to offer social support to people who can no longer gather in person, with more than half (51%) saying that brands must do this to earn or keep their trust.
Consumers think brands should focus their communications on pandemic solutions, not selling, and should avoid humor.
- More than three in four consumers (73%) want brands to talk about their products only in ways that show they are aware of the crisis and the impact it is having on people lives, with 37% saying that brands must do this to earn or keep their trust.
- 85% want brands to focus their advertising on how their products and services can help people cope with pandemic-related life challenges, with more than half (49%) saying that brands must do this to earn or keep their trust.
- A majority (69%) want brands to stop any advertising or marketing that is humorous or too lighthearted in tone.
- Advertising that shows people gathered together using products and having a good time is similarly distasteful, with 34 percent Indian respondents agreeing it should be avoided.
Consumers rely on traditional channels and find experienced spokespeople most credible for information about the virus and a brand’s response.
- Traditional media and email channels out-perform social media by more than 10 points.
- National media, local media and owned media are believed most readily – before brand advertising, brand social media, product reviews, influencers and social media.
- The most credible spokespeople are doctors and health authorities (84%), followed closely by Brand CEOs at 71%.
Brand responses are already influencing purchase behavior.
- 60% respondents in India said they have recently started using a new brand because of the innovative or compassionate way they have responded to the virus outbreak, including 82% in China.
- And a similar number (60%) have convinced other people to stop using a brand that they felt was not acting appropriately in response to the pandemic.
- 79% said that how well a brand responds to the crisis will have a huge impact on their likelihood to buy that brand in the future.
Recommended actions and approaches for brands:
- Show up and do your part. Brands have a vital role to play. Now is not the time to disappear, but to show up and use all your resources and creativity to make a difference.
- Don’t act alone. There is strength in collaboration. Truly helping people during this crisis requires a joining of forces with others, most critically government.
- Solve, don’t sell. Brands should focus all efforts on finding appropriate and meaningful solutions to the problems people are facing today.
- Communicate with emotion, compassion and facts. People are reassured by positive brand actions and commitments. Communicate with empathy to help both inform and calm.