Many people around the world find themselves fluctuating between adaptation to the requirements of lockdowns and resistance to them, depending on their need for connection with other people; brands will need to reassess their role accordingly, new research suggests.

Strategy consultancy CLEAR and research company Toluna surveyed the attitudes and behaviours of 150 people around the world to ascertain what percentage of respondents broke lockdown rules to meet other people; it also drew on the ‘Not Everyday Life’ project in which agencies around the world conducted and analysed over 300 qualitative interviews across more than 30 countries to identify 21 lockdown themes.

Writing for WARC, Jacob Harbord, Clement Law, Angel Manzano (all of CLEAR) and Christine Tan (Toluna), note the surprising finding that more than 60% of consumers had broken the lockdown rules to meet face-to-face with friends and family.

“The fact that so many were willing to risk legal action alongside their own health to fulfil their need for connection demonstrates the overriding importance of this motivation,” they observe.

Other adaptation strategies include cocooning and re-evaluating or taking the opportunity to re-connect with households and local communities.

But however consumers have approached this period, the pandemic has restricted and reshaped how consumers express their fundamental need to connect.

“We should expect a major impact on their relationship with all kinds of brands,” the authors state. “As such, brands must re-evaluate their role within their customer’s lives. What do consumers need from them? How can they retain relevance in this new environment? What can brands do during the present crisis to secure long-term success?”

In the short term, brands can help consumers resolve the tension between ‘adaptation vs resistance’ and make the necessary changes to their lives. “Advertising can use positive storytelling to reframe the crisis and help audiences develop resilience,” they say.

The longer-term picture is more complex, as, in the new normal, some brands become more relevant, others less so.

The authors suggest segmenting the post-COVID brand landscape by two dimensions: changing relevance; relative focus on serving need for connection. Locating brands in the four quadrants this creates helps throw light on the challenges facing different kinds of brands, they say.

For more details, read the article in full: Relative relevance: How brands can re-connect as consumers adapt to a post-COVID world.

Sourced from WARC