In the early moments of the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of brands elevated nearly immediately. Some retail stores were deemed essential, and their employees became frontline workers seemingly overnight. Trusted brands also quickly moved to the forefront of the COVID-19 conversation. People, businesses and brands were given the opportunity to improve the greater good, or at least the normalcy of consumers’ lives, and consumers, for the most part, noticed.
Now, as the country’s economy begins to reopen, it’s clear that consumers want to continue to see demonstrable goodwill from the brands they love. How is your brand contributing to societal, economic or environmental progress? Is your supply chain secure and ethical? Bottom line: Are the goodwill efforts you demonstrated during COVID a marketing tactic or something that's a part of the ongoing core beliefs of your brand and the company behind it.
This isn’t conjecture on my part. According to Kantar Monitor, the percentage of those who want brands to take a larger role in society has risen 14 percent in just the last two years, from 51 percent in 2017 to 65 percent last year. More eye-opening is the recent Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Brand Trust in 2020, which found that trust is the second most important factor in the decision to purchase from a new brand (53 percent) or become a loyal customer (49 percent), trailing only price and affordability at 64 percent. That’s a huge shift given that this time last year trust was a distant fifth, behind product performance, customer service, retail presence, and ingredients.
That same Edelman survey noted that 46 percent of people now trust most of the brands they use, up 12 points in the past year and rising more than 20 points in the U.S.
It's worth mentioning that it didn’t take a global pandemic for many brands to enact goodwill and philanthropic initiatives, and surely most will continue to do so post-crisis. The point is consumers are paying attention and their expectations have been raised, which for some companies, just trying to stay afloat themselves, presents a conundrum as philanthropy may not be on their list of priorities right now.
Here’s your post-COVID brand goodwill checklist:
- Listen to consumer sentiment and response from global partners, which are likely to be ahead in virus escalation and impact. Remember also, how you treat your employees is highly visible and everyone is watching. It's likely affecting your brand more than you think it is.
- Stay up-to-date on continually emerging digital behavior insights, such as shifts and spikes. Identify the metrics that matter for your brand and let them be your North Star.
- Explore new tools and strategies for search monitoring, social listening and social engagement.
- Review and examine all your brand’s creative with a critical eye to ensure it’s striking the right tone.
- Consider quick market studies with your audience to gauge customer attitudes and inform your messaging strategy with data.
- Look for untapped overlap between your customers' stated needs and the services your brand can provide.
As Marshall Field, the great American entrepreneur and the founder of Marshall Field & Co. department stores famously said, “goodwill is the only asset that the competition cannot undersell or destroy.” That’s good advice for brands to remember right now.
Elizabeth Fogerty is chief strategy officer of shopper marketing agency EDGE.
Elizabeth Fogerty is Chief Strategy Officer of shopper marketing agency EDGE.
With 25 years across marketing disciplines, Liz has significant experience leading marketing teams and formatting strategy helping brands from Target to Walmart, Publix to Kroger, Kohl’s to Peapod design and develop shopper marketing campaigns that drive results. Liz is able to share insights on all things voice commerce, specifically concerning some of the biggest questions/trends facing the voice commerce revolution.