Brands should engage with Covid-19’s new audience

Amrita Nair-Ghaswalla Mumbai | Updated on May 05, 2020

Even world leaders more active; seizing the initiative

Covid-19 provides an opportunity for brands to provide confidence and reassurance, and a sense of certainty and reliability. Brands need to continue to invest in building their equity during times of crisis, to remain a relevant part of consumers’ day to day lives, says a marketing executive.

“As marketers strive to sustain and stay relevant in the current scenario, advertisers and brands need to strategise communication which is engaging and empathetic. Though many marketers and brands are taking a defensive position on advertising budgets, it is advisable to continue to remain engaged with your end-consumer,” Sharad Alwe, MD and Co-Founder of Update Geotarget, which provides local narrowcasting services, told BusinessLine.

Alwe went on to add that one could be socially responsible and “Covid-sensitive, and continue to inform consumers on merit. Brands and marketing heads should look at the situation as an opportunity to build trust and build a relationship with the audience.”

Even world leaders are more active and engaged at this time. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the most popular world leader on Facebook, with more than 44.7 million likes on his personal page and 13.7 million likes on his institutional Prime Minister of India page, which is in the fourth position.

US President Donald Trump is the second-most popular world leader on Facebook, with more than 26 million likes.

As citizens look for guidance during the Coronavirus pandemic, many follow political leaders closely. Communications agency BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe) analysed the pages of world leaders and noticed the 721 pages of world leaders had added 13 million new page likes.

This was a 3.7 per cent increase, registering half of the growth these pages had enjoyed over the past 12 months.

The study showed US President Donald Trump dominating the rankings for the most interactions with 309 million comments, likes, and shares on his Facebook page over the past 12 months, ahead of Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro with 205 million interactions.

Prime Minister Modi, who has more than four times as many page likes, is in the third place with a total of 84 million interactions over the past 12 months.

Prime Minister Modi reportedly reaches 1.7 million of his fans, which represent 3.8 per cent of his Facebook community. US President Donald Trump, who has 26 million likes on his FB page, reaches 877,000 fans ― only 3.3 per cent of his massive community.

The pages of Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and those of the governments of Austria, Estonia, and Italy had more than doubled their page likes in March 2020 alone, the BCW report noticed.

Chad Latz, Chief Innovation Officer and Global President, Digital Innovation Group at BCW, said the significant increase in followers of world leaders on Facebook “is a logical result of two primary drivers, populations seeking definitive answers on the Coronavirus issues and their country’s definitive policy on managing the pandemic.”

The study showed that consumers are spending more time online, and it has increased in some pockets up to 36 per cent and on Facebook more than 20 per cent.

TV channels

Consumers are not just spending time online browsing social media platforms. Many are taking in content from various channels, even from local TV stations.

This is where brands need to focus to engage with their audience, says Alwe.

“This is a time where people are consuming a lot of content that is local, regional, non-primetime. There is huge inventory available on some reasonably priced TV channels and cable TV channels, among many different genres. This reflects in the regional viewership numbers as well, which are persistently high,” says the official.

Though sports, reality TV and GECs have been directly impacted due to the lockdown, as there is no new content generated by these channels, Alwe highlights that more households are tuning in and non-primetime viewership has shot up, with families at home with limited outdoor activity.

Apart from satellite channels, there are around 1,500 cable movie channels, and 400 local news channels, with locally curated and fresh content. “Cable movie channels have very fresh content, and local news is very important to viewers right now. There is plenty of inventory available there with a highly engaged, local and regional audience,” adds Alwe.

The spotlight has to shift to engage with these audiences, the new consuming public. Alwe says companies and brands need to seek out innovative means to remain connected with their customers, using the ecosystem available for smart messaging. “Eventually, industry needs to revitalise the economy, and this will happen only through increased consumption of goods and services,” Alwe adds.

Published on May 05, 2020

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