Over recent months we have seen changing behaviour across the globe due to the COVID-19 virus. The world has had to adapt to the new situation and a ‘new normal’ has gradually formed in the culture of many businesses.
Businesses have had to optimise online experiences and implement new voices and new concerns as they are raised and have had to redefine strategies in new contexts.
The Coronavirus which originated in China has caused drastic disruption throughout the epidemic. Context matters when looking at the virus and its effects on China as a whole.
The country is a digital-first economy and has a population of 1.4bn people. 60% of the population has access to the internet, 58% has access to mobile internet and 42% has access to mobile payments.
Looking at epidemic in China, there were a number of industries that were affected. Negative effects were felt by the following industries:
- Out of home entertainment
- Out of home dining and gatherings
- Fitness groups
- Medical beauty
- Clothing and accessories
- Beauty products
- Stock market
- Consumer electronics
- Large and small appliances
- Home fitness equipment
However, some industries saw an increase in spending. These include:
- Basic and advanced epidemic prevention products
- Household cleaning products
- Online entertainment
- Food and beverage
- Nutrition and health products
- Medical/Life insurance.
Lessons we can learn from the epidemic in China include the need to pay attention to changes in consumer mindsets, consumption behaviour and lifestyles to enable more flexibility in business plans, marketing, communications strategies and investment plans. There is a need to put more focus on ‘at home’ occasion marketing.
Other lessons include the acceleration of digital transformation the strengthening of brand-owned digital platforms and the embrace of social media to efficiently interact with customers. Brands need to pay attention to community-based socials and proactively adopt new digital tools.
Looking at how the virus has affected attitudes in the UK, research undertaken by Kantar states that people are mainly apprehensive about the potential economic impact of the virus with 47% of those queried feeling concerned and 36% experiencing daily disruption.
Further insights suggested many people wanted advice on prevention, diagnosis and behaviour relating to the virus. 14% of people wanted advice relating to who is at risk of severe illness, 5% wanted advice on risk from products shipped from aboard and 18% wanted advice on the likelihood of contracting the virus.
Compare this to attitude of concern surrounding the virus from other nations, the UK sits low on the list just above the USA and Germany, with China, Brazil and Turkey topping the list of most concerned nations. Surprisingly concern in Italy was only slightly above the UK.
When people mention the Coronavirus online, they also discuss several other things which mirror the stage of pandemic in their specific countries. Travel mobility was more prevalent in the UK and Italy with death being a primary co-concern for those in China.
In the UK travel mobility was the main discussion of internet users followed by personal care and the cancelation of sporting events. Fourth on the list was financial services which hints at people’s worries about the future.
Concerns associated with panic focused on two themes: symptoms and financial future of consumers. Insurance was associated with mentions of being fearful.
While discussing crisis behaviours, consumers were future-orientated and discussed the potential motives of those with the keys to the vaccines, while watching the death toll figures through constant media updates. And more people than ever questioned the whole system that society is currently operating within, on a global stage.
From images shared online, six core themes have been identified representing new needs and approaches to tackling them:
- Memes and selfies are normally frivolous and funny, but it seems in times of crisis they morph into something different and more serious.
- As people stay inside, they seem to increasingly long to be outside.
- We see people quickly adapting by switching their social and work lives into a digital format.
- More images are shared of being in cosy and safe locations. Pets take a larger role in social media interactions.
- People turn to their own creativity to keep entertaining during working from home measures.
- People share images of the ‘new essentials’ that are important to them during self-isolation.
From this information gathered there are six key takeaways for brands when it comes to changing behaviours in the market.
- Get the cue for your tone of voice from consumers.
Think ahead and take constant ‘temperature checks’ so you understand the changing public mood and sentiment.
- Enable future planning.
Remind consumers of the future and enable them to make plans for it.
- Be an enabler of resourcefulness.
Support consumers with ideas, products and services that help them adapt.
- Help create moments of calmness and joy.
Consider how you can play a role in maintaining mental and emotional wellbeing.
- Help people learn new skills, make and create.
Recognise consumer desire to be more active and creative with your products or services.
- Identify the essentials that matter.
Understand that people’s needs continue to be individual. Help people to lead the lifestyles they want and pursue their passions.
Publicity Seekers is a team of trained journalists and communications specialists who understand all aspects of the media. The company has been successfully building client reputations for 13 years. To get more information on crisis comms during the COVID-19 outbreak get in touch.