No news is… bad news: Consumers won’t buy from uncommunicative brands during COVID

by | Jun 16, 2020 | Covid-19, Public Relations

As the COVID crisis drags on, consumers have become more conservative with spending and more selective on what and where to purchase—and new research from PR and content marketing firm Media Frenzy Global reveals that brands that want to remain vital need to do a better job of communicating.

The firm’s global study, Don’t Stop, The Future is Now, released in partnership with Arlington Research, revealed just under a third (31 percent) of U.S. consumers worry businesses who have failed to share any company news or content during the pandemic are in financial trouble—and because of this, they likely wouldn’t spend with them.

No news is… bad news: Consumers won’t buy from uncommunicative brands during COVID

In addition to shifts in consumer sentiment, the data revealed interesting trends being experienced across the country:

  • Just under half of U.S. respondents (47 percent) are desperate to hear about non-COVID-19 news
  • 50 percent of U.S. respondents surveyed agree they spend more time consuming content than ever before
  • 45 percent of those surveyed agree they want to be inspired by brands so they can be hopeful about the future, which ultimately inspires them to spend money with these brands when this is all over
  • 38 percent of Americans said their perceptions of businesses have changed;
  • More than a third of respondents are concerned about their job security if their company (or employer) has gone quiet; the U.S. is among countries where agreement is highest at 35 percent.

“It’s undeniable without a clear communication strategy, you risk consumers forming their own conclusions—and those conclusions might not even be right,” said Sarah Tourville, CEO and founder at Media Frenzy Global, in a news release. “Your business may be faring the storm, but if your staff and customers aren’t aware and may be reluctant to place that next order for fear you might not be able to fulfill it. Likewise, if we want to restore faith in our economies, we must keep employees up to date on company news, changes and the future.”

No news is… bad news: Consumers won’t buy from uncommunicative brands during COVID

Unsurprisingly, 50 percent of U.S. respondents surveyed said their consumption of content increased during the pandemic when compared to before. Much of this can undoubtedly be attributed to lockdowns, with people spending the majority of their time at home surfing the internet.

The research also sheds light on topics consumers are craving. Nearly half of all surveyed (47 percent) agree they want to hear and read news unrelated to the pandemic, with just 20 percent in disagreement. This desire for non-COVID-19 news is felt across generations, ranging from 51 percent millennials to 43 percent of the ‘silent generation’ (those aged in their 70s and 80s).

No news is… bad news: Consumers won’t buy from uncommunicative brands during COVID

Consumers have also indicated that when businesses are communicating with them, they want to feel encouraged and heartened by their message. Over a third (35 percent) of those surveyed stated during the crisis, brands that inspire them and give them hope are the ones they want to spend money with in the future. This is especially true for those dwelling in larger metropolitan cities across the U.S., compared to more rural regions.

“People want news and want to be inspired. The majority of respondents who took part in our survey, of which there were 13,000 consumers from 14 countries across the world, told us how well a company responds to the coronavirus crisis will have a huge bearing on the likelihood of buying from them in the future,” said Paul Stallard, managing director at Arlington Research, in the release. “Do not underestimate the ‘power of now.’ Now is not the time to go stop your communications—the beginning is always today.”

“As a company providing a full range of services to support major retailers’ and brands’ online business, we have experienced a significant uptick during the pandemic,” said Michael Wright, VP of marketing and solutions at PFS, in the release. “Not only are people shopping and buying more online, but they are getting a more direct experience with the brands they buy. This research indicates that going silent is breaking an important connection between companies and their customers. There’s a clear opportunity for companies to be generous in their communications with customers to improve brand loyalty now and in the future.”

Download the full report here.

The study was conducted online between late April and mid-May among 13,000 respondents across generations from 14 countries, including 2,500 from the United States.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter