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BizReport : Advertising : April 10, 2020

Expert: How brands can improve Coronavirus response

Consumers are getting emails and seeing thousands of ads focused on how businesses are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. But instead of this content reassuring consumers, many are finding the messaging off-putting. One expert explains why - and what brands can do to better communicate with their base.

by Kristina Knight

Kristina: There are memes all over social media from consumers who are flaying brands for their current response to the Coronavirus crises. Many seem annoyed that businesses are explaining how they are cleaning their stores rather than how they are caring for their employees. Do brands and merchants need to change the way they are reaching out to customers during this time?

Nicole Amsler, VP of Marketing, Formation: Brands need to acknowledge that it isn't business as usual during this time -- focusing on customer engagement is still important, but showing empathy is especially crucial to drive loyalty. Recent hits to purchase frequency and foot traffic mean that retailers need to think beyond the present and prioritize engaging with customers so that they're prepared for when the industry eventually rebounds. Rather than simply letting shoppers know how they are responding, brands should also signal that they care for their employees and customers to build long-term relationships. Sending this level of empathetic messaging will build trust and convert more shoppers to loyal ones down the road.

Kristina: Hopefully the Coronavirus crisis will pass quickly but there will be other issues similar to this; during times like these, what should brand messaging look like?

Nicole: Right now, brands should focus on customer retention rather than purchase frequency. This means sending messages that clearly acknowledge and empathise with the global narrative and show that the company cares. Relevance isn't only about tailoring to the individual, but also recognizing the larger context of what's happening in the world. Brand messaging that is contextually relevant and empathetic will lead to stronger long-term relationships, and a loyal customer base that keeps coming back, even during times of crisis.

Kristina: What can businesses do now to begin winning back angry or annoyed consumers?

Nicole: Mending broken or damaged relationships with customers takes time. Customers aren't going to immediately start spending at the same rate, especially if they feel like brands don't understand what they value. This is why personalization and customization are crucial to gaining back a following and inspiring loyalty for the future. 

Tags: advertising, advertising trends, brand safety, coronavirus response, covid19 response, customer service, Formation, loyalty marketing, social marketing

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