It’s no secret that there is an overwhelming feeling of uncertainty and anxiety across the U.S., and the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all facets of life, and the consumer landscape is no exception. Brands and agencies must tap into their ability to nimbly adjust to an evolving industry and develop new ways to understand, adapt and engage customers and prospects.
In recent years, consumers have become increasingly loyal to brands whose values align with their own, and now the public stage is growing even larger. Consumers are looking closer at brands and retailers to see how they’re handling the COVID-19 crisis. According to 4 A’s, 56% of consumers are pleased to hear about brands taking actions like making donations of goods and services, 43% find it reassuring to hear from brands they know and trust during this time and 40% want to hear how brands are responding to the outbreak. Only 15% of consumers said they did not want to hear from brands at this time.
In a world where we need the Human Element more than ever before, and the need for human connection is at an all-time high, even virtually, the brands and retailers that connect with their customers and prospects on a deeper, emotional level are the ones who will come out of this turbulent time stronger than ever.
From companies that are increasing hourly pay to brands and retailers donating time and money to those who need it most, which brands are successfully tapping into consumer values and earning the trust of consumers? On the other hand, which companies have failed to do so, and what are the consequences?
BRANDS ALIGNING WITH CONSUMER VALUES
Chipotle is providing hourly workers with a 10% pay increase through April 12 and offering an emergency paid sick leave program for employees affected by COVID-19. They’re also only offering takeout, mobile orders, pickup and delivery – patrons are not allowed to dine inside. According to Resonate’s Ignite Platform, which houses 13,000 insights on over 200 million U.S. consumers, 40% of Chipotle diners emphasize the importance of caring for family and friends as one of their primary values. Chipotle’s decision to pay their hourly workers extra during a time of financial uncertainty directly speaks to that value.
Another brand that is successfully tapping into their customers’ values and preferences is Lowe’s. Not only are they hiring 30,00 in-store positions across the U.S., they’re offering employees additional payment in recognition of their efforts to serve customers and communities during this time of crisis. These efforts are in line with their customers’ shopping preferences –– Lowe’s shoppers are 28% more likely than the average U.S. consumer to prefer companies that support the community and 17% more likely to prefer companies that treat employees fairly.
Meaninwhile, Anheuser-Busch took a different approach and teamed up with Midwest Animal Rescue & Services to help them alleviate the thousands of dogs currently housed at shelters as adoptions are on pause during the pandemic. For a limited time, they’re offering a free three-month supply of Busch beer to anyone who fosters a dog and donating $25,000 to the shelter*. According to Resonate insights, 34% of Busch beer drinkers cite animal rescue and rights as one of their top charitable issues and 57% of Busch beer drinkers are dog owners, so they’re tapping into their customers’ passion for animal welfare.
Airbnb is doing what they can to support the worldwide fight against Coronavirus, despite the fact that the travel and hospitality industry is facing its own set of challenges during this time. They’re providing free or subsidized housing for 100,000 healthcare workers *. According to a Resonate analysis, Airbnb users’ top personal value is maintaining a good public image, which fits in well with what the company’s trying to do by offering shelter to those working for Red Cross and other non-profits. They are also 56% more likely to prefer companies that listen to the public, 52% more likely to pay more based on an important issue and 28% more likely to engage in a company’s societal program.
These examples fully support Resonate’s belief that a deeper, human-level consumer understanding leads to better relationships between brands and customers.
WHEN BRANDS DON’T CONSIDER THEIR CONSUMERS VALUES
Brands must have a deep understanding of their audience’s values when making business decisions surrounding COVID-19. One brand who’s struggling to do that? Amazon. Whole Foods, which is owned by Amazon, sparked outrage among employees and customers by suggesting employees “donate” paid time off to one another during the global pandemic. This goes against the values of Whole Foods shoppers, 30% of whom prefer doing business with companies that treat their employees fairly. They also place a big emphasis on customer service, they’re 38% more likely than the average U.S. consumer to consider good customer service a key shopping factor, which cannot be given to them if employees are sick at work.
Amazon on the other hand, is under fire for a different reason. Close to 5,000 employees signed a petition asking for paid sick leave for all workers, and hundreds of workers staged a walkout on March 30 over major concerns that the online retailer is not doing enough to protect its workers from the negative impact of COVID-19. 31% of all Amazon shoppers choose where to shop based on the way companies treat employees. To put this in perspective, according to Resonate’s Ignite Platform, there are 175.5 million consumers who’ve shopped on Amazon in the last three months, which means 54 million consumers believe in the importance of treating employees fairly.
The most essential thing brands and retailers need during this unprecedented time is a holistic, 360-degree view of customers and prospects. Leveraging that deeper understanding helps you make better business decisions and foster brand. With customers and prospects looking to see how companies are handling the COVID-19 crisis, it’s critical for brands and agencies to connect with consumers and let them know they are here to help.
If you’re looking for a deeper, more dynamic understanding of how your customers are handling the current crisis, Resonate’s proprietary data is available for insights, analysis, appending and activation. Contact us for a demo today.