quarta-feira, 29 de abril, 2020

In the new pandemic, the best place for a brand is the usual

Revelers crowded under the exuberance of skyscrapers and the extravagant luminescence of Times Square. Effusively, they applauded and intoned in unison the countdown, amid the traditional descent of the ball that records the final seconds of the year that departs, while another presents itself. The hope of a new beginning permeated the air.
On the other side of the world, however, fate had already released the data. On December 31, 2019, more than 11,000 kilometers away from the iconic 'ball drop' in New York, Chinese authorities contacted the World Health Organization (WHO) to report a mysterious case: 41 people had been infected with an unexplained disease with symptoms similar to pneumonia.
Before we at least had a chance to steady our feet in 2020, the year had already turned upside down. Covid-19 broke out of the bat to, through pangolin (possibly, reach our collective psyche. We then faced a health crisis, followed quickly by a financial collapse and subsequently by the decree of a global pandemic. We have moved from a single world to this scenario of several countries furiously isolating themselves from each other. For most people, the world as they knew it had changed—and was about to switch to the brands that served them.
There is a growing feeling among common sense gurus in business that once the consumer-brand relationship goes through the fireproof of a pandemic, branding will never be the same as before. It's an opinion I don't share.
There is no doubt that consumers will have different behaviors and the longer the current situation lasts, these behaviors will eventually turn into habits. We'll go shopping differently, clean the environments differently, change the ways we interact and have fun. As new habits form, old brand experiences will change. Retail flags, for example, will see a higher prevalence of digitally watched self-service models (such as purchases made online and picked up by customers at a certain location outside stores in a drive-thru accessible on foot). Travel industry brands will be threatened by the increasing number of comfortable people with the idea of connecting only remotely. Schools and colleges will be forced to find a solution that addresses alternative models of education.
But while many brand experiences will change, the meaning of being a notorious and obsessive brand for serving consumers with excellence will remain the same. Evolution in experiences has nothing new: the Sears catalog was as exciting in the 19th century as augmented reality apps are today.
The best place for a brand in this crisis is with customers, as an ally. A Forrester study of more than 4,000 participants pointed out that a brand's potential to create value is mainly linked to its ability to generate emotional engagement; and that the most influential factor in consumer choice is the competence of brands to be helpful, reliable and reassuring.
Brands that make this partnership with customers an intrinsic premise to their business are always ready for tensions and instability. Both in brands that have inserted it into their DNA and in cases where the CMO needs to dig deeper to find it, empathy must sustain critical and ongoing crisis management.
The action guided by purpose is the result of empathy. Walmart's response shortly after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 in the United States is considered the top reference in terms of how a brand should respond to a crisis. When large numbers of people were stranded on the Gulf Coast without access to essentialitems, Walmart put all of its incredible infrastructure in sync to offer help to those in need, even before the Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) could arrive on site. The retail giant has taken relevant and notorious actions under the convergence of three forces —the unique nature of the crisis, customer needs, and the company's unique and proprietary resources to make a difference.
During this pandemic, private companies promoted significant initiatives from the convergence of specific situations to each. AB InBev, L'Oréal, LVMH and Tito's Vodka redirected processes and adjusted factories for the production of disinfectants and hand sanitizers. Gap is making aprons, hospital clothes and masks. In the UK, Pret A Manger offers free drinks to NHS workers.
The pandemic has put the performance of brands under the spotlight. While there are exceptions, such as Norwegian Cruise Lines, investigated for misleading customers about the severity of Covid-19 so they could continue booking their cruises, the brands are generally being approved with praise. In the United States, a PSB survey found that 88% of respondents believe brands have taken the lead to help address the crisis and 92% of consumers agree that they are more likely to reward these brands and their businesses.
As the future of brands will unfold in the coming months and years after the pandemic, brand experiences will continue to adapt and evolve, probably at a breakneck pace, aligned with technological innovation. But some things will become even more firmly rooted, such as the relationship of trust, value, and pertinence that connects an individual to a brand. Sometimes it takes a pandemic for brands to realize that.
- Chaterjee Dipanjan
Meio&Mensagem - 28/04/2020 Noticia traduzida automaticamente
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