How Marketers Can Help Restore Consumer Confidence
By: Michelle Manafy
Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, consumer confidence has declined in all 50 states, according to ongoing research from Morning Consult. And we all know that consumer confidence is a critical component of economic growth. As businesses begin to reopen across America, they need to work hard to restore this critical sentiment. To that end, consumer confidence may well be the only marketing message that matters for some time to come.
As consumers weigh the pros and cons of carefully reemerging from quarantine, many marketers will need to make a point of reassuring them in their messaging. Here are four smart marketing approaches to consider as you seek to restore consumer confidence.
1. Reframe social distancing.
The impact of Covid-19 on the travel industry has been profound. And even as airlines try to assuage travelers' worries with new boarding procedures and cleaning protocols, many Americans plan to stick close to home this year. Some marketers have been quick to channel the current mood into campaigns that extol the virtues of solitude and wide-open spaces. Take these tourism ads from Wyoming and Wisconsin, which tell us "maybe a little more emptiness is what we need" and celebrate "all the fresh coast air you can breathe."
For some brands (and not just those selling toilet paper), there will be an actual opportunity coming out of this challenging situation. For some travel-related companies, for example, extolling the virtues of wide-open spaces will be a hot selling point for the foreseeable future. And road trips and camping are sure to see a resurgence. Staying attuned to customer concerns and communicating your clear plan to address them will be critical for success.
2. Acknowledge the struggle.
Given unemployment numbers and job insecurity for those lucky enough to remain employed, many consumers will be inclined to put off big purchases, like cars. If you position your brand as providing a strong and trustworthy helping hand, that will help customers take on major expenditures more confidently. Marketing that recognizes and addresses the economic uncertainty faced by most consumers will resonate.
Some car companies are offering 0 percent financing for 84 months on popular models. Buyers with good credit will even have the option to defer payments for up to 120 days. Hyundai has gone even further with job-loss protection: The company will cover six months of payments for new customers who lose their jobs because of Covid-19. With clear threads of understanding, empathy, and economic reality, this marketing campaign will pay off.
3. Build consumer trust.
Money matters are top of mind for most Americans, but many are obsessing over bank balances and stimulus checks, not contemplating major financial maneuvers. Dutch bank Triodos, whose stated mission is "to make money work for positive social, environmental and cultural change," positions its marketing message as a call to "reset" the economy. It delivers a message of personal empowerment aimed at inspiring consumers to get money moving again.
Customers are rewarding brands that they feel are behaving socially responsibly right now, and are reconnecting with trusted local businesses. Messages that reflect these priorities will reassure consumers that they are making the right move to invest with your organization.
4. Emphasize safety.
Restaurants have been incredibly hard hit by the pandemic. As they consider the prospect of dining out again, consumers will need considerable reassurance that they can have faith in their favorite dining establishments. McDonald's has not shied away from marketing during lockdown, wisely emphasizing the safety of "our communities and people."
Without a doubt, marketers in the food business will need to double down on messages of health, wellness, and safety of staff and patrons to fully restore consumers' appetite for dining out.
Consumer confidence is more than an economic measure or indicator of recovery; it is a state of mind. As we conceive of the messages that will revive our businesses, we must focus now -- as ever -- on the needs of our customers. And right now, they need us to help restore their faith by acting decisively to do business in ways that support them during this challenging transition. Then we can confidently deliver marketing messages that build consumer confidence and reignite the economy.