The pandemic may have weakened brand power in general but continued engagement is key to maintaining brand strength – and that requires both good content and an understanding of the changing sentiments of consumers.

It’s well understood now that consumers are not averse to advertising during the pandemic: Kantar research has shown 92% would like brands to be advertising – and the research firm also found greater enjoyment of ads among APAC consumers during COVID-19.

Good content is in the hands of brands themselves while social listening can be useful for brands to obtain cues for their tone of voice, straight from the very consumers they wish to engage, according to Jessica Bower, senior director for Kantar’s consulting division in Asia.

For example, Kantar’s visual analysis of 9,256 Instagram posts referencing social distancing in Korea, Indonesia and Thailand, found that consumers are reacting to the crisis with deft touches of humour despite the seriousness of the pandemic – and hints at how brands can tread a balance between cheerfulness and gravity.

“We have seen some really light-hearted ways of addressing the issue, but often underneath it is a very serious message,” Bower told a recent webinar. (For more details on how brands can amend their approach, read WARC’s article: Adapting to the new rules of engagement with consumers is a must to survive COVID-19.)

“We also see people sharing selfies but in a more serious way, pledging their commitment to the cause, sharing information in ways that are helpful and meaningful for people as well,” she added.

Brands operating across the region will need to fine-tune their communications for each market, however, in line with what consumers are experiencing and what they need.

For instance, while emotional reactions are prominently seen in many markets with lockdowns – as glimpsed from social buzz – brands need to be mindful that there are real differences in how consumers are feeling in different markets.

“Korea is slightly less in the emotional space, but very much concerned around the practical, economic and pragmatic impacts on their daily lives,” observed Bower.

“Whereas, for example in the Philippines, there is a need for a much more empathetic response, to really recognise that people are feeling very concerned.”

Sourced from WARC