Public want brands to move 'beyond crisis' and be more 'playful'

The UK public increasingly want to hear from brands about things other than the coronavirus, as brands are urged to move beyond crisis comms, new research suggests.

Fun tone: recent campaigns for Ikea (left) and snack brand Emily
Fun tone: recent campaigns for Ikea (left) and snack brand Emily

A survey by Opinium Research of 2,005 UK adults, carried out between 12 and 15 May, found 64 per cent believe other important things aside from COVID-19 aren’t being addressed due to the crisis, up from 52 per cent in a similar study in April.

As a result, most UK adults do not want the main focus of a brand campaigns to be about lockdown, social distancing or responding to coronavirus.

Overall, only 27 per cent of consumers want content that focuses only on COVID-19, while 73 per cent want content that isn’t directly focused on the virus.

However, the picture differs by sector. The industries where the public most want campaigns to focus on the crisis are supermarkets, healthcare & pharma and retail; they least want to hear about it from brands in the fashion & beauty, automotive and gym & fitness sectors (see graphic, below).

The research also suggests the public increasingly want the tone of campaigns to shift away from crisis mode. Fewer people now want campaigns to be informative (67 per cent, versus 69 per cent in the earlier survey from April), serious (49 per cent, down from 56 per cent) and professional (43 per cent, down from 48 per cent).

At the same time, more people want campaigns that are entertaining (32 per cent, up from 30 per cent), playful (31 per cent, up from 28 per cent), and warm (41 per cent, up from 40 per cent).

Meanwhile, there's been a slight change of opinion about how people want brands to communicate with them.

Most notable has been the shift from email to TV adverts. In the weekend of the lockdown, 40 per cent of people surveyed wanted to hear from brands via email and 31 per cent via TV ads. By week eight of the lockdown, 38 per cent favoured TV ads, versus 36 per cent who preferred email communication.

Fewer people now want to hear form brands via social media posts, but more would like to via online ads (see graphic, below).

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