How consumers’ attitudes to advertising changed since COVID-19

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30-second summary:

  • We’ve hosted our latest Peer Network Briefing with Norm Johnston, CEO at Unruly, and Rebecca Waring, Global VP of Insights at Unruly, for an exclusive briefing about the changes in consumers’ behavior and what they mean for advertisers.
  • Emotion is more important than ever in advertising. According to Unruly, happiness and inspiration work well right now making a difference in a time that negative messages are prevalent.
  • It looks like only 2% of consumers think brands should pause all advertising. In fact, 21% of consumers want ads to include information about COVID-19. 49% of consumers are also expecting ads to make them feel warm or happy.
  • One of the most important changes since COVID-19 is increased media consumption. This is a key change for advertisers when planning their tactics for the time being.
  • There is an expectation from brands to adapt. If a brand is not adapting to the situation, consumers may feel contemptuous. People are currently looking for brands to provide a sense of continuity.
  • It’s important to remember that it’s a fluid situation and things change fast. Perceptions may change so reviewing your content every couple of weeks can be very helpful.
  • Everything’s changing very fast right now. Using the same message for a long period of time can lead to possible fatigue. It’s useful to research and listen to what people want from you and how to adapt to a changing situation.

We are dealing with an unprecedented situation and the impact of COVID-19 has already affected all industries. Advertisers are urgently adapting their strategies to stay relevant but they are still the challenge of going through unchartered territory.

As consumer behavior is changing, it is important to look at the challenges and the opportunities that come along with it.

Last week we’ve hosted our latest Peer Network Briefing with Norm Johnston, CEO at Unruly, and Rebecca Waring, Global VP of Insights at Unruly, for an exclusive briefing about the changes in consumers’ behavior and what they mean for advertisers.

Here are the key takeaways from the session:

Emotion is key

Emotion is more important than ever in advertising. According to Unruly, happiness and inspiration work well right now making a difference in a time that negative messages are prevalent.

It’s interesting to consider that millennials have had the biggest change in their behavior and it’s useful to consider when crafting content for them.

People want brands to keep communicating during COVID-19

Should brands continue with their comms at this stage? Many advertisers are confused. Consumers seem to have a clearer idea.

It looks like only 2% of consumers think brands should pause all advertising. In fact, 21% of consumers want ads to include information about COVID-19. 49% of consumers are also expecting ads to make them feel warm or happy.

Thus, brands are asked to find a balance between emotive and informative ads to appeal to their target audience.

Increased media consumption during COVID-19

One of the most important changes since COVID-19 is increased media consumption. This is a key change for advertisers when planning their tactics for the time being.

According to Unruly’s ‘COVID-19 Consumer Survey’, 60% of respondents are spending more time with on-demand TV, social media, online video, live TV and messaging. This means that it’s the perfect opportunity for advertisers to reach them where they spend the most time on.

How are advertising preferences changing during COVID-19?

As consumer behavior changes, advertisers need to adjust to make the messages resonate with their target audience.

There is an expectation from brands to adapt. If a brand is not adapting to the situation, consumers may feel contemptuous. People are currently looking for brands to provide a sense of continuity.

Reassurance as part of relevant content and charitable work towards the community can lead to positive brand recall.

How brands can research creative insights

How do you come up with creative ideas during an unknown situation? There’s no need to panic. You can still research creative insights and pre-test your assumptions for your next ads even in a matter of days.

It’s important to remember that it’s a fluid situation and things change fast. Perceptions may change so reviewing your content every couple of weeks can be very helpful.

You can even repurpose old advertising with a new message on top as long as you get input from data to get the message and the tone right.

The need to frequently review the messaging 

Everything’s changing very fast right now. Using the same message for a long period of time can lead to possible fatigue. It’s useful to research and listen to what people want from you and how to adapt to a changing situation.

Whether it’s your regular content or a new campaign, it’s important to stay alert for possible changes.

Examples of brands getting the messaging right during COVID-19

Looking for inspiration for your next campaign?

Here are three brands that got their message right during COVID-19:

Dove’s ‘Courage is beautiful’ (great brand recall with the use of the right tone in the message)

Budweiser’s ‘One Team’ (the brand transferring their sports sponsorships to support key workers – the messaging was perfect and got high reviews but the brand recall could be better)

EE’s message to NHS workers (this ad had one of the highest brand favorabilities in the UK)

What’s next for advertising?

We are going through uncertain times but it’s also crucial to look ahead. What should we expect from advertising over the next months?

Here are some thoughts from Norm and Rebecca:

  • We are starting with re-imagining the state of advertising
  • The increased media consumption and the rise of streaming, VR and CTV are highlighting the new consumer attitudes
  • E-commerce is more critical than ever
  • The challenge is to convert the video into the ability to make a purchase
  • For some clients, it’s the time to come back if they initially paused their advertising
  • For others, it’s time to adapt to the changing situation

One way or another, there is a total acceleration at everything that we were expecting and the biggest challenge will be to keep up with the shifts in consumer behavior and advertising.

You can check out Norm and Rebecca’s full Peer Network Briefing here.



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