Brand trust in the time of COVID-19

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Brand trust in
the time of
COVID-19

January 14, 2021

COVID IS CHANGING THE BRAND LANDSCAPE.

At ExpertVoice, we think about brand trust and advocacy every day. The 400+ consumer brands we work with do, too. So we can’t help but zoom in on the distinct trends that are surfacing as a result of our strange times.

We recently hosted an online summit in October where Bain & Company presented intriguing data about how COVID-19 has already significantly impacted consumer buying. But way before they got to that part, we were struck by their timeline for the ongoing state of disruption:

BainCompanyGraph

A Fall Peak


Experts unanimously agree fall peak is inevitable.

It will be similar to the summer peak, with lower death rate as doctors have learned to treat cases effectively.

Question to be answeredis “how high will thepeak be?”

B Vaccine Available

Experts agree that a vaccine will likely be developed by Q4 2020 or Q1 2021.

Likely used on essential workers and high-risk populations at first.

C Vaccine Distributed

Wide consensus among experts that full scalevaccine distribution will not occur
until late 2021.

Distribution challenges and low initial propensity to receive the vaccine will delay full scale distribution to fall 2021.

D Potential booster/new vaccine
Potential booster or a new, more effective vaccine likely
to roll out post-2021.

Newer vaccines will likely be prioritized to those not immunized, leading to a
steady decline in cases.

E Return to new normal
Likely to occur after wide vaccine distribution and use.

Consumers will begin to
return to normal routines,
e.g. going to restaurants,
bars, traveling.

F Steady-state

Experts posit a low steady-state will not be possible until we return to a new normal.

Until successful vaccines are deployed and public health measures are taken seriously, spikes in cases should be expected.

The good news is that some of these timelines for a vaccine have improved since October. And generally the overall trends are similar to their earlier predictions:

  • A COVID peak in the fall/winter of 2020
  • A solid vaccine in 2021
  • Wide vaccine distribution in 2022

We have a long road ahead of us.

And current trends in consumer buying are likely to be more of a permanent shift than a short-lived blip. A few key signs of lasting change:

CONSUMERS’ BUYING PATTERNS ARE CHANGING IN A BIG WAY

73%
have tried new shopping behaviors since COVID-19 emerged

75-83%
plan to continue those new behaviors

E-COMMERCE JUST EXPERIENCED 4 YEARS OF GROWTH IN 4 MONTHS

That’s right—the primary channel for consumers is now online.

61%
say they’ll do more online shopping going forward

CONSUMER LOYALTY IS IN FLUX — AND UP FOR GRABS

They’re switching from private labels to branded goods.

21%
reported trying a new brand in recent weeks

What does this all mean for your brand?

Bain’s advice is to align your brand with the “new laws of gravity” by doubling down on the consumer trends above. Considering that shoppers have less to spend and more anxiety about spending, Bain called their state of mind a “flight to trust.” Meaning: They’re increasingly looking for advice on what to buy, and not just from brands themselves, but fellow shoppers—and particularly people they trust. We’ll talk more about the skyrocketing importance of brand trust in our next newsletter.