by Catherine Boera – SVP Director of Communications Planning

Among the many challenges stemming from COVID-19 now facing people and brands alike is a redefinition of “the consumer journey.” As large percentages of the population “shelter in place”, the daily realities of what that means rapidly refocuses consumers’ priorities. The brands that best adapt and respond to these new priorities have a real opportunity to thrive amidst all the uncertainty of our “new normal”.

What is it that Consumers want, and Brands need? In a word, CARE.

Consumers want CARE:

CONNECTION – humans are social beings and social distancing/self-isolation creates a craving to connect with others, including brands.

  • Verizon has reported dramatic increases in voice usage (both in number of calls and duration), web traffic and video streaming.1
  • According to a recent survey by Kantar, only 8% thought brands should stop advertising.2

ASSURANCE – consumers want to hear brands acknowledge the new realities and know they are taking appropriate action in response.

  • A recent 4A’s survey found that consumers are looking for communication from brands during the COVID-19 outbreak. Most are pleased to hear brands are “taking action” (56%). They want to know what steps they’re doing in response (40%).3

RESOURCEFULNESS – consumers want to know that brands are improvising and finding ways to meet immediate needs in the face of adversity

  • Automotive brands are proving to be particularly adept. For example, Hyundai Assurance offers to cover payments for 6 months if your job is lost due to Covid-19 while GM is enabling OnStar Crisis Assist (at no charge) for all current GM owners.
  • Burger King’s simple message is “let us take care of you while you take care of your family” – pick up your order at drive-through with minimum contact.

EMPATHY – importantly, consumers want to know that brands understand what they are going through and are being proactive to protect their employees and customers alike.

  • According to Nielsen, a lack of paid sick leave for many workers in retail (and the food industry in particular) has raised shoppers’ concerns and is prompting some companies to adjust their policies. By giving employees additional paid sick leave, these retailers are signaling their proactive stance in preventing the spread of the illness, as well as reinforcing their safety measures to consumers.4

That is what CARE means to Consumers: Connection, Assurance, Resourcefulness and Empathy. In our next CARE installment, we will examine more closely what CARE means from the perspective of Brands. In the meantime, to borrow the old British wartime slogan: Keep Calm and Carry On. Keep advertising and communicating with your customers, current and prospective. Adjust your messaging to show you are providing the CARE they crave. And know that we at Active CARE and are ready to help you do whatever you need to do with our support.


1 Verizon, March 12-19, 2020: web traffic +22%, video streams +12%, voice usage +25%, call duration 15% longer
2 Kantar, “Covid-19 Barometer”
3 4A’s Online Survey, 3/18/20
4 Nielsen, CPG, FMCG & Retail, 3/11/20