We asked respondents to tell us what they want to hear from the companies they value. The most compelling option, rated as “high” interest by 53 percent of respondents, was critical updates about material changes to availability of their products and services.
- “My rec center and library told me they were closing, which was helpful. The library also detailed their policies on checked out items, late fees, item holds and other things, exactly what I needed to know.” - 30-44 year old male
- “Capital One has been very reassuring. That they would find a way to work with anybody that needs help that made me very comfortable and I appreciated it” - 45-60 year old female
However, as the frequency of these critical updates slows, consumers still have a strong desire for engagement. Messages with inspiration and strategies to stay safe were ranked of high interest by 37 percent of consumers, particularly when those recommendations are grounded in the company’s particular area of expertise.
These messages show consumers that the company is attuned to their experiences and focused on relevant advice and even offers.
- “[I valued] memos from Ahead Inc. [a health, educational, and agricultural non-profit] about coronavirus and how to prevent and/or deal with it.” - 60+ year old male “[I appreciate] messages relating how they are keeping me and their employees safe” - 60+ year old male
Another valued message type, ranked of high interest by 32 percent of consumers, is information about companies’ charitable activities related to coronavirus, or avenues for consumers themselves to take action. This shows that in times of need, companies are going out of their way to be a part of the solution. When consumers may feel lost as to how to help, actionable tips are appreciated.
- “[I appreciated communication from ] Harbor freight about how they are donating their stock to medical professionals.” - 45-60 year old male
- “I’ve seen Facebook posts of companies putting their normal production on hold to make things necessary for medical emergencies. This will change things. Be part of the change.” - 30-44 year old female
Of course, it’s important that any messages you’re sending around COVID-19 are targeted and purposeful. If you have any doubt about whether you’re adding value to the lives of your recipients, rethink what you’re sending so you don’t strike an inauthentic chord.
- “Updating status during the outbreak seems like a publicity stunt” - 18-29 year old male “[I’ve been put off by] Unhelpful or minor promotions that are not helpful during this time. - 18-29 year old female
Perhaps most risky is conveying information that consumers will perceive as mishandling the crisis or sharing inaccurate information.
- “Quit trying to get people to go out and shop. I’ve seen companies offering bonuses for buying a lot of products. Stay home! This should be what they are telling people ‘stay home’. I know people need things right now, so these companies need to distribute the goods door to door and get a tax write off later or institute a ‘pay what you can’ model for certain goods. We’re all in this together.” - 30-44 year old female
- “[Company name omitted] company president doesn’t care about workers, only his bottom line. Never will shop there again” - 45-60 year old male