Brands' behaviour during COVID will decide how people buy from them: Edelman report

Edelman's latest Brand Trust Barometer for 2020,  'Special Report: Brand Trust and the Coronavirus Pandemic', shows that Indian customers want brands to do the right thing during the COVID-19 crisis. And they will base their future buying decisions on how brands demonstrate their concern for employees and society at large:

60% of respondents in India said they have recently started using a new brand because of the innovative or compassionate way they have responded to the virus outbreak

A large number of respondents to the survey done in the last week of March (1000 per market in 12 countries including India, US and the UK) said that brands are critical to winning the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Nearly two in three respondents (62% globally and 65% in India) don’t believe their country will make it through the crisis without brands playing a critical role in addressing its challenges.

Partner with the government to win trust 

One of the ways Indian respondents said brands can gain their trust is by partnering with government and relief agencies to address the crisis. 59%  of Indian respondents said that brands must do this to earn or keep their trust.

Consumers are looking to brands to protect their employees at all costs

55% of Indian respondents want brands to do everything they can to protect the well-being and financial security of their employees and suppliers, even if it means suffering big financial losses until the pandemic ends. 

Additionally, nearly three-quarters of Indian respondents (73%) said brands and companies that place their profits before people during this crisis will lose their trust forever.

Getting the communication tone right 

Respondents shared some very specific feedback regarding how a brand can get the tone and frequency of communications right

Consumers think brands should focus their communications on pandemic solutions, not selling, and should avoid humour:

Consumers want to hear from brands about what they’re doing to respond to the pandemic.

Nearly nine in 10 India respondents (88%) say they want to be fully informed about how a brand is protecting employees and customers, and an almost similar amount (86%) want brands to keep the public fully informed about changes in how the brand is operating and in how to gain access to its products and services.

Customers (87%  of respondents) also want brands to serve as a reliable news source about the virus and the progress of the fight against it, with 54% saying that brands must do this to earn or keep their trust.

    Consumers want brands to be creative problem solvers.

    In India, nearly nine in 10 respondents (88%) want brands to shift to producing new products that help people meet the unique challenges of life during a pandemic, with 57% saying that brands must do this to earn or keep their trust.

    67% said they are not paying attention to new products and services right now unless they are designed to help with pandemic-related life challenges.

    Recommended actions and approaches for brands:

    The report concluded with a set of recommendations for how brands should conduct themselves in the coming weeks and months: 

    • Show up and do your part. Brands have a vital role to play. Now is not the time to disappear, but to show up and use all your resources and creativity to make a difference.
    • Don’t act alone. There is strength in collaboration. Truly helping people during this crisis requires a joining of forces with others, most critically government.
    • Solve, don’t sell. Brands should focus all efforts on finding appropriate and meaningful solutions to the problems people are facing today.
    • Communicate with emotion, compassion and facts. People are reassured by positive brand actions and commitments. Communicate with empathy to help both inform and calm.