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The Influencers

How Consumers Can Help Brands Recover from Covid

Lisa Marie Fortier at ENGINE Insights on letting your customers create solutions that matter

How Consumers Can Help Brands Recover from Covid

A new year, nearly 18 months into the Covid-19 pandemic and one thing we have all learned is that fast paced, continual change is the world we live in.

As summer approached, we were excited at the thought of returning to family, friends, travel, celebrations, and more. Vaccines were widely available; mask mandates were lifting, and it once again felt safe – or safer – to re-join the world.

What most consumers didn’t think about were the remaining disruptions to the supply chain that are still causing products to either be in short supply or much more expensive. Craving your favourite Starbucks beverage? You may be surprised to see it sold out. 

The shortage is also incredibly pertinent when it comes to labour. Who is working in the restaurants and salons? The gyms and the hotels? All these factors leave many questions, the biggest of which may be: how long will consumers remain patient and understanding?

The answer to that question will be directly linked to the actions companies take and how long before they act.

 

Understand expectations

Much has been said regarding expectations that consumers are going to have as we move forward and return to the activities that once played significant roles in our daily lives. Eating out now feels more special; a trip is not just a chance to get away, but an opportunity to heal and visit missed loved ones. What if the waiter is juggling twice as many tables than before? Perhaps there is a longer wait time to check in.

There are a lot of emotions behind these expectations – more than has been seen in the past.  

Companies that will not only survive but thrive will measure emotions and do so frequently. Emotions can change overnight and particularly now as the world around us that forms the basis of those emotions changes quickly.  

 

Let your customers create solutions that matter

Many consumers became innovation experts over the past 18 months as they had to creatively problem solve with the situation they were handed. Remember Dalgona whipped coffee consumers could make from home and made popular by social media?  Or what about the pivot to RV’s and camping as a go-to vacation choice?

Covid created challenges that consumers stood up to solve. Brands like LEGO, Starbucks, Heineken, and DHL are all well known for their ongoing collaboration with customers. As we move into a new phase of consumer expectations, working with consumers is a great place to start to keep them brand loyal and engaged. 

Brands should involve consumers in creating solutions and uncovering what they need not only to solve problems, but to help them FEEL better. Not only can this be a fast source of inspiration, but also can deepen the emotional connection with brand followers. Brands should invest in maintaining an ongoing conversation with consumers. 

One way of doing this is through developing online communities that bring together a group of consumers where they can work collectively to brainstorm new ideas, give feedback on a brands latest idea or share their thoughts, feelings and concerns as we progress through this new experience together. Ongoing pulse surveys are another great option to stand up a quick survey to get quick, targeted reactions to current events or brand initiative. Of course, the best solution maybe a hybrid approach – a short term community that may last only a few days bring the emotions and the quantitative answers in days. 

 

What businesses should carry into the future

Businesses that recognise the power of emotions and the state that the consumer is likely in now will succeed. Like any great relationship, facing problems together is the best path to ensure a stronger relationship in the long term. 



Lisa Marie Fortier

ENGINE Insights

Senior vice president, Consumer & Retail Lead

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