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May 14, 2020

The Answers to Brands' Top COVID-19 Questions

by Joy Corkery

The COVID-19 pandemic. A time of fear and uncertainty for many, including some of our favorite brands. We wanted to help by putting some of those uncertainties to bed. At Latana, we are lucky to have a platform that enables us to reach a large global audience and we wanted to leverage that for our customers. So, we invited them to join our free COVID-19 “Omnibus” series.

The premise was simple: we asked brands for their most pressing question related to COVID-19. We then put the questions to 500 people in the US. We gained some interesting insights into spending during the pandemic, materialism, shopping habits, and mobile banking. Take a look at the responses and use the insights to help your brand prevail during these troubling times.

Which of the following, if any, have you delayed spending on since the COVID-19 outbreak?

US citizens are keeping their cents in their pockets. But where are they most reluctant to spend right now?

COVID-19 Insights

Unsurprisingly, the travel, restaurant, and entertainment industries have taken the biggest hit, fuelled by the many company closures that needed to take place to protect people’s health and safety. But, it seems like spending is also down across most market categories: particularly beauty, big-ticket items, and luxury goods. Healthcare and groceries haven’t suffered much but even there, spending has decreased.

Naturally, brands will want to push and encourage consumers to buy their products. We get it, they need to make money. However, any marketing campaigns that are running right now must be sensitive to the population’s current plight. Plus, any incentives you promote right now mustn’t be one-sided - and that includes toward the customer too.

Back in 1981, American Airlines was cash strapped so it decided to offer unlimited first-class flights for a flat rate of $250,000. By the time 2007 came around, passengers were taking free flights that amounted to millions in loss for the company.

Thinking about the things you own, how has your attitude changed, if at all, since the COVID-19 pandemic?

Let’s be honest, a brand's main purpose is to sell their products and services. So many have already lost out due to the lockdown that has taken place worldwide, and want reassurance that their customers will still be there when things end.

The last years have already been a whirlwind of minimalism and people like Marie Kondo have driven home the message that “less is more”. With more than 26 million people in the US out of work due to COVID-19, there is less income to spend and more time to think about the things they really want/need in life. Will that mean less spending even when restrictions are lifted?

COVID-19 Attitude Change

Nearly 50% of respondents stated that their attitudes towards owning material goods have remained unchanged since the start of the pandemic. We can’t say whether or not these people were big spenders or lived a minimal lifestyle, but the result indicates that their spending is not set to change.

However, there may be an indication of a reduction in materialism among the general population. Brands will need to convince consumers of the value of their product all over again.

Thinking ahead to a time when government restrictions on COVID-19 are lifted, how do you expect your purchasing behavior to change?

Shopping habits are already shifting from offline to online, with 85% of Americans shopping for groceries in-store, but preferring to purchase non-essential daily items online. With online shopping being the only option in many industries during the pandemic, will more people stick with online shopping in the aftermath?

COVID-19 Purchasing Behavior

Although a good chunk of respondents indicated that their purchasing behavior won’t change, it seems that this uptick in online shopping will remain following the lifting of restrictions. As you can see from the chart above, there is a definite perceived shift towards more ‘online’ behavior as economies begin to recover.

Many brands have already had to adjust and sell their products online in order to stay afloat, but the results encourage these brands to make online sales as a long-term tactic.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your opinion on using digital or mobile banking (banking in which you access via an app on your phone and not a physical bank)?

Here’s one for the Ally’s and Go Banks of the world.

COVID-19 Mobile Banking

The good news for mobile banking is that of the respondents that are not already using the service, the majority of people may be more responsive to the idea of transitioning to online exclusive or mobile banking. Although, keep in mind that there is still a large portion of neutral responses. Mobile banks should take advantage of this opportunity and start running marketing campaigns to get users on board. Who knows how opinion might change following the end of the pandemic.

Brands are struggling during these uncertain times but all is not lost. Consumers might not be spending on travel but are still purchasing cosmetics. More people than ever are open to mobile banking. People still want to spend when all this is over. The thing is, we don’t know when the COVID-19 pandemic will be over. So, brands must do what they can to prosper and, at the very least, survive. The best way to do this is by knowing what consumers are thinking and how they are acting. Key insights that can drive great marketing campaigns and sales pave the way right now.

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