Covid-19: IAB study shows consumers want clear and frequent brand comms in a crisis

Clear and frequent communication from brands stand out as the main drivers of positive sentiment among consumers during the coronavirus crisis, according to new research.

A study from the UK arm of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), in association with YouGov, found 75% of people feel more positively towards companies that have clearly communicated how services have adapted and the majority think it is important for companies to be communicating with them about changes.

Some 86% of consumers want more information regarding physical store changes and opening hours, while 81% seek information on adapted delivery services, and 80% demand details of increased safety procedures.

Four-fifths of the 2,123 adults surveyed in June said they are more likely to buy from companies that have responded well to the crisis, with supermarkets ranked highest for their actions during the pandemic.

On the flip side, 80% of respondents noted they will be less likely to purchase products or services from companies they feel have been insensitive or taken advantage of the situation.

Overall, the study showed people have been attuned to how brands have acted in response to the crisis, with 35% saying they have paid more attention than usual to how companies have behaved. Some 45% of people saying too many brands have tried to take advantage of the situation via their advertising. 

Elizabeth Lane, head of research & measurement at IAB UK, commented: “With so much uncertainty in our daily lives at the moment, it’s clear that consumers want more – not less – communication from brands.

“This crisis has highlighted stark differences in people’s feelings towards those that they feel have reacted well and those that they see as having behaved poorly. As demand flows back into the economy, this research indicates that it’s those brands that have kept consumers informed, reassured and continued to deliver a reliable service that stand to gain.”

Tesco emerged as the leading brand in terms of its actions during the pandemic, and was spontaneously mentioned by 15% of survey respondents. Asda and Morrisons ranked second and third, respectively.

Amazon and Boots were the only non-supermarket brands to make the top ten list.

When questioned, consumers cited the speed of getting safety measures in place, prioritisation of key workers, and good treatment of staff as key factors in determining their attitude to brands in the crisis.