Three consumer trends impacting advertising in the reopening

Donald Hamilton, Business Development Director – Advertising Solutions at Dynata, looks at the results of a study carried out by the company around consumer attitudes towards advertising as the world slowly emerges from lockdown.

As the world cautiously reopens, and many of us return to some semblance of our prior lives, consumer behavior has shifted. The coronavirus pandemic continues to influence how consumers perceive and respond to advertising, and brands continue seek clues as to how to effectively reach their audiences during this transition. When can they start transitioning from the pandemic-influenced messaging back to “normal” advertising? Or will it continue to be an active part of their messaging?

In part two of our Advertising in the New Normal research series, entitled ‘Global Consumer Trends COVID-19: Advertising to Consumers in the Evolving Pandemic’, we examined if there has been a shift in consumer attitudes towards advertising, and explore whether advertisers need to continue to adjust their messaging, and the actions brands can take, to increase customer loyalty long term.

Here’s some of what we learned:

Expectations for the pandemic’s duration are growing, and consumer anxiety remains high
One of the first trends uncovered in the report is that consumer expectations for the duration of Coronavirus pandemic have evolved, with 65 per cent now believing it will last six months or longer, up from 52 per cent in early May. And with predictions of a longer pandemic, consumer concerns for their health, finances and the economy remain high. With most consumers anticipating the pandemic to last more than six months, and continued high levels of concern, advertisers should be mindful of how this will influence their sensitivity to advertising and buying intent.

It’s too early to pivot away from the pandemic in advertising
Possibly the biggest question on the minds of advertisers today is when is it okay to steer away from reflecting the pandemic in advertising. Transitioning too early could cause your brand to seem out of touch, while transitioning too late could mean a missed opportunity to regain relevance and interest among target audiences in a crowded marketplace.

Our data finds that it’s too early to make this pivot, with close to a third (31 per cent) of consumers wanting brands to reflect the pandemic in their messaging. This trend has only decreased by 3 per cent since early May, a sign that this attitude perhaps will not change quickly. In fact, 24 per cent find ads that don’t reflect the pandemic unappealing, a number that has increased since our prior survey. While there has been slight fatigue in pandemic messaging, it’s too early for advertisers to make the change.

Taking action by helping employees and communities continues to resonate and drive customer loyalty long term
In ‘Walking a Fine Line: Brand Messaging During the Crisis’, we found that storytelling around how your brand is contributing to COVID-19 relief efforts could have a positive effect on customer loyalty post-pandemic. But, with many brands now taking action, how can you ensure your story stands out? And which actions resonate most with consumers? Our data finds that any action that supports pandemic relief efforts, such as giving back to the community or supporting employees, will increase customer loyalty long term. Specific actions such as donating PPE to first responders, feeding healthcare workers and paying employees unable to perform their jobs were rated most likely to increase customer loyalty after the pandemic. Regardless of whichever contribution you choose to make, what’s important to consumers is that your brand acts now. Failing to contribute during this time could lead to long-term damage to brand perception after the pandemic has passed, with 32 per cent of consumers saying they would be less loyal to brands who chose not to act.

For more on this topic visit our COVID-19 Insights page to download the ‘Global Consumer Trends COVID-19 Edition: Advertising in the New Normal’ series.