Covid-19 has consumers seeking info from trusted news brands, says CNN official

Amrita Nair-Ghaswalla Mumbai | Updated on May 20, 2020

Lasting habits are being formed with media and content

The Covid-19 era has got consumers placing even more value on media these days, says an official of CNN International Commercial.

Tini Sevak, Vice-President, Audiences & Data, CNN International Commercial, says despite the need for instant access, at this time of heightened uncertainty, consumers are taking time to seek out reliable news and information from trusted news brands.

Seismic changes in consumer behaviour and media consumption were noticed much earlier, given increased globalisation and greater connectivity.

“Pre-Covid-19, we had already seen a cultural shift, largely driven by the developments in technology used for services and content delivery, which gave audiences higher expectations and lower attention spans when it came to content. The ‘Amazon era’ of easy access and fast delivery created consumer demand for media and news brands to deliver what people want, when they want it and where they need it,” Sevak told BusinessLine.

As a result of this consumer mindset and the availability of cheap access to mobile data, India overtook the US last year to become the world’s second largest smartphone market in the world.

The current pandemic has further accelerated many of these trends “around mobility and access to content, services and products. According to comScore, internet usage in India surged in March with visits to the internet increasing by 12 per cent and time spent online growing by 18 per cent compared to the previous month,” Sevak said.

A report by Global Web Index found that across the world, 71 per cent of people were spending more time on their smartphone, with an even greater increase in India as 79 per cent of people said their mobile usage had increased, said the official.

Looking at the global picture, based on the Global Web Index Covid-19 Barometer, Sevak said, “Two-thirds of CNN audiences are spending exponentially more time consuming news since the Covid-19 outbreak; a similar amount are watching more shows and films on streaming services; and over half of CNN audiences are spending longer on social media.”

A third of CNN audiences indicated that spending more time on news coverage, streaming and video will become their permanent habit, said the executive, who added that lasting habits are being formed with media and content.

Brand role

The official said CNN saw a larger global audience than any other digital news platform in the world in March, with a record 259 million unique multi-platform visitors.

With many consumer surveys, such as a special Covid-19 edition of Edelman’s Trust Barometer, finding that major news outlets are relied upon by consumers twice as much as global health organisations or national health organisations, the executive said brands have a critical role to play in fostering confidence and optimism during this time.

“As we understand more about content consumption and behaviour, media companies and brands can respond better to consumers and their needs, enabling a stronger and more direct relationship with the audience. As a result, the value exchange between media, brands and consumers will evolve and strengthen,” said Sevak.

From an advertiser perspective, most consumers want to hear from brands that they know during this time, said the executive. “The Global Web Index found 79 per cent of consumers approve of brands running campaigns that show how they are responding to Coronavirus and/or are helping their customers at this time. This is even higher in India, where 83 per cent of consumers expect this from brands,” said Sevak.

While the message needs to be clear, authentic and align with a company’s values, Sevak said it also needs to be mindful of the current status of the audience.

“While there is no playbook for exactly what lies ahead, the trends we are seeing indicate long-term shifts in consumer behaviour, consumer spending and e-commerce, company operations, and communications and connections. From this period of extended lockdown, new digital ecosystems will emerge and the current need for digital services will increase adoption amongst different age and demographic groups,” said the executive.

Brands best positioned to navigate the change will be those “that have used data, technology and audience insights to re-imagine, reinvent and adapt to the changing consumer behaviour, and therefore have invested more in consumer relationships. Within this environment, the strength of a brand and its ability to deliver on its consumer promise will be even more essential,” said Sevak.

Published on May 20, 2020

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