During uncertain times some companies might find it difficult to adjust their tone of voice to the new situation. Nowadays, the questions companies ask most of the time are: how to communicate with consumers during COVID-19 and how to promote my products or services but sensibly?
I have already shared some cultural tensions the lockdown has highlighted, you can read the article here and learn more about it. Some of those same cultural tensions are causing a shift in the way companies communicate with their customers, no matter what channel they use.
//Three cultural tensions and communication
I would like to focus on three central cultural tensions that are affecting the way companies connect with their consumers.
- Social distancing vs. emotional connection: we are experiencing a common emotional rollercoaster due to the confinement and the social distancing. Companies should take this opportunity to make their consumers feel understood. How? They should use a reassuring tone and trigger a reassuring feeling. Togetherness is a key ingredient to engage with your audience and create an emotional connection. Zara, for instance, decided to shot the last arrival's campaign from the models' homes. After all, they are in lockdown, just like any customers. Zara's choice is a relatable visual communication that plays on a sense of "we are in this together."
- Concerns vs. inspirations: we are experiencing the challenges of being constrained to the walls of our homes. Dragging on the quarantine might minimise our desire to see our future with a positive lens; from where we stand today, it might be challenging to think about a rosy future. Inspire your customers with possible future scenarios, allow your community to dream through your brand. Movies are inspiring, make us dream and feel better, so Häägen-Dazs partnered with the immersive-storytelling company, Secret Cinema, and together they launched "Secret Sofa," a weekly home-entertainment screening with the perk of a discount code to order an ice-cream.
- Uncertainty vs. transparency: transparency has been a priority in the last years, as employees and consumers have found out their voices could be heard via social media. This pandemic is the biggest driver of change most of us had ever experienced. At the same time, it is serving as an accelerator of trends and behaviors. Consumers want to know more about their companies, and they are looking for those glass walls to see the organization's internal culture. Think about what happens when people see that culture: they feel something about it. Transparency is so important to consumers, even more during uncertain times, that we witnessed the launch of the UK-baes website "Did They Help?". It tracks companies and public figures in terms of their actions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Be careful about how you behave and how you communicate it! You can end up in the list of "Heroes" or "Zeroes."
Whatever strategy your company decides to follow, remember it essential to manage it with authenticity. You have to be coherent with the core values of your company. Otherwise, your strategy won't work.
One way to control better any message you are launching to your community is by using online and live channels—for example, our online pop-ups. You can read more about how to start an Online Pop-Up Store, a new channel about how to communicate with consumers during COVID-19.
Why an Online Pop-Up Store is a good idea?
Because direct communication reinforces your general message, and you have immediate feedback from your audience. You will reach out to your community in a creative way. Also, it is the most natural setting to implement the three key points I mentioned above: togetherness, inspirational, and transparency.
What strategies are you using during these challenging times? Reach out to us if you need help strategising about future scenarios.