QUICK READ: The misinformation that’s been circulating on social media has been brought to light because or th4 current pandemic. Brands that act like nothing is wrong and use the same strategy as before are going to pay a huge price. Another reason why strategic brand planning is a waste of time.
As the coronavirus has spread across the world, so too has misinformation about it, despite an aggressive effort by social media companies to prevent its dissemination. Facebook, Google, and Twitter said they were removing misinformation about the coronavirus as fast as they could find it and were working with the World Health Organization and other government organizations to ensure that people got accurate information.
The problem is that consumers are pretty much left in the dark to determine what information is credible and what is bogus. There is no doubt that misinformation has contributed to the irrational panic buying of toilet paper and bottled water.
With consumers staying home and not shopping or going out to eat adding more to their pockets is not going to help. What consumers need now are brands and products that make them feel good despite the bad media headlines.
The media, at times, has been downright irresponsible during this crisis. People don’t realize that dramatic headlines led to clicks which lead to better metrics to sell advertising. We are also witnessing the reason why so many media brands are failing; the use of writers instead of real journalists.
So what does this mean for traditional marketing? It means that brand messages are going to become lost in the overflow of too much information, Brands need to have empathy for consumers and do their best to try and optimize their messages for scared shitless consumers.
What is that message? It depends on the product category. A frozen pizza company, for example, might want to talk about how their pizza tastes like restaurant pizza.
Brands should also be part of credible information. Communicating that hoarding is an irrational fear could be helpful and reassuring customers that there will be plenty of stock of product may be one example. They may also want to share important health information such as a reminder to wash hands and explaining what social distancing is all about.
When this pandemic subsides, and it will, I believe consumers are going to reward themselves with splurges in shopping and vacations. Will the economy go back to the way it was before? Gradually yes but the fat that was in the stock market is gone. If consumers won’t go out to eat and refrain from traveling they may start finally paying down some of their debt which has been sky high.
In the end, when this is over, marketing will change. Brands that ignore the changing environment are risking everything including brand equity that took years to develop. Contingency planning is needed but plans need to be flexible as well. Ask “what if?” and prepare for “what about?”