COVID-19 study reveals consumers demand ethically-led, authentic action from brands

If there’s one thing that has emerged throughout the COVID-19 crisis, it’s the strength of communities when they come together

In a crisis, it’s clear that people’s natural instinct is to help, to reward people who put themselves before others and to join forces in order to protect more vulnerable people.

Hopefully, such behaviour will be one of the building blocks of a new, more caring society that emerges when this pandemic is over. And at the heart of this societal rebuilding will be brands. For instance, our research shows that 56% of UK consumers agree that they have realised that local community is important and nearly two-thirds of the nation say we need to take it upon ourselves to support local businesses.

Brands, too, have a role in rebuilding society

Brands, too, have a role in rebuilding society. They have the power, clout, loyalty and leadership to become the glue that holds communities together. People look to brands for guidance, for fast decision-making and the kinds of innovative approaches that often elude governments hampered by bureaucracy.

However, brands can’t briefly demonstrate such positive behaviour and then assume consumers will view them positively. In another piece of research, we show that 72% of US consumers are not impressed with how brands have supported communities, which highlights that brands need to do more to help communities through the worst of this.

Over the coming months – and for a significant period after the crisis is over – companies will need to show authentic and long-term commitment to being brands that care, that are on the side of communities and go far beyond what is expected of them.

The coronavirus crisis will ensure that purpose will be an integral part of future brand strategies. But the hard work needs to start now.

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