How are consumers feeling about the COVID-19 crisis now?

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In part two of our week-long series on consumer marketing during a pandemic (see part one), we tackle an important question for marketers: how do consumers feel? The coronavirus and subsequent shutdowns aren’t just having a public health and economic impact, they’re affecting how we feel. This, in turn, affects how we market.

How are consumers feeling?Most people in marketing acknowledge the power of emotions when it comes to branding and advertising. Dr. Peter Noel Murray, Ph.D. in his Psychology Today article How Emotions Influence What We Buy, cited several studies that show how emotions play a role.

  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) shows that when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences), rather than information (brand attributes, features, and facts).
  • Advertising research reveals that the consumer’s emotional response to an ad has a far greater influence on their reported intent to buy a product than does the ad’s content—by a factor of 3-to-1 for television commercials and 2-to-1 for print ads.
  • Research conducted by the Advertising Research Foundation concluded that “likeability” is the measure most predictive of whether an advertisement will increase a brand’s sales.

But what marketers often forget is that they have little to no say over the emotional state of consumers before they encounter a brand. This is a crucial bit that most marketers miss. The consumer is not simply sitting around waiting for you to create a feeling for them. They arrive at your brand like travelers from a far off destination, weighed down with baggage (albeit emotional baggage).

These days the emotional baggage is particularly heavy as consumers around the world face trying times and increased stress due to the ongoing public health crisis, its economic effects, and societal/political strife. So when consumers say they are actively avoiding the news to relieve stress, marketers shouldn’t be surprised. In fact, marketers should consider findings like this as a factor that determines consumers’ emotional state prior to interacting with brands.

For the first time, about 1 in every 6 people say they are starting to actively avoid the news in order to relieve their stress

Stress may be the default setting for a lot of people, but marketers should also consider ways their markets vary. If you have a brand that is geared towards an older audience, you might want to emphasize how your product can help to address health and safety concerns. Among younger consumers, however, the prevailing mood has been boredom as shutdowns continue in some locations.

About 50% of younger consumers said they feel bored

If Americans make up the majority of your market, the state of affairs in the country is also an important consideration. In May, prior to the current civil unrest, a large group of Americans were calling the reopening of the country “not worth it” and few felt prepared. Since this research was collected, further factors have made the U.S.A. an even more difficult place for marketers to weave in brand messages as the country sees turmoil at a scale rarely seen before.

As of mid-may, 64% of Americans said that reopening the country was “not worth it” while Only 14% of Americans felt ready to resume normal day-to-day activities

These and other stats on marketing during the pandemic are available on TDA’s Consumer Marketing During a Pandemic available on LinkedIn.

Do you know how your consumers feel when they arrive at your brand? What emotional baggage do they bring? What previous feelings did they have about your brand? Have they changed?

We don’t claim to have the answers but if you’re asking yourself these questions and looking for help for your brand’s response and future marketing, you can come to TDA to find a market research agency that can help your brand in the face of the crisis.