Do brands have an obligation to fight the coronavirus?
Actions more than words are wanted from brands amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new global survey from Edelman, the public relations firm.
According to a survey of 12,000 consumers taken between March 23 and 26:
- Sixty-five percent said how brands respond to the pandemic will have a “huge impact” on their likelihood to buy their products;
- Sixty-two percent agreed that their country would not make it through the crisis without brands playing a “critical role” in the fight against the coronavirus;
- Ninety percent want brands to partner with government and relief agencies to address the crisis;
- Eighty-nine percent said brands should shift to producing products that help people meet the new challenges presented by the virus, and/or offer free or lower-priced products to health workers or other high-risk individuals;
- Fifty-two percent of said brands “must” foremost protect the well-being and financial security of their employees, even if it means suffering big financial losses. Thirty-eight percent “hoped” brands would do this.
The survey comes as scores of brands across many industries have reconfigured operations to manufacture masks, scrubs, hand sanitizers and respiratory devices for medical workers. Companies have also been providing free meals to healthcare personnel and first responders as well as making donations to food banks.
Edelman’s survey also found that consumers want to hear about COVID-19 responses. Eighty-nine percent want companies to keep the public fully informed regarding how the brand is supporting and protecting their employees and customers.
Other expectations for brands:
- Eighty-four percent expect brands to be a reliable news source, keeping people informed about the virus and the progress being made in the fight against it;
- Eighty-four percent want advertising to focus on how brands help people cope with pandemic-related life challenges;
- Eighty-three expect brands to connect people and help them stay emotionally close.
“There is no rapid return to normal,” said Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman, in a statement. “The new world will have trust at its core, with the brand mandate expanded to solve problems for all, protect all, care for all, collaborate with all and innovate in the public interest.”
- Trust Barometer Special Report: Brand Trust And The Coronavirus Pandemic (press release) – Edelman
- 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Trust and the Coronavirus (study) – Edelman
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How have consumer expectations for brands been altered by the coronavirus pandemic? Do you agree with Mr. Edelman that a brand’s mission is, among other things, to “solve problems for all, protect all, care for all, collaborate with all and innovate in the public interest”?