Americans want brands to step up and help amid coronavirus, study finds

Mindshare study finds most sectors have seen a jump in want from consumers to do something in the space of one week.

More people want brands to step up amid the COVID-19 crisis and help, according to adland’s most comprehensive study since the outbreak took hold of America.

Basically every industry has seen a jump in want from consumers to do something coronavirus-related in the space of one week.

Mindshare surveyed more than 1,300 people on March 11 (the same day the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, and prior to Trump declaring a state of emergency) and again on March 17 when Americans were in full isolation mode.

There has been a significant increase in those thinking companies in sectors including health care, food and utility services should stand up and offer aid. Auto, luxury and candy brands are low on this totem pole, but have still seen a jump. 

As more realize the severity and impact of COVID-19, Americans want brands to donate and help communities taking the hardest hit, such as those unemployed, on low income, homeless and elderly. Sixty-seven percent think companies should donate supplies (a hike of seven percent in one week). The biggest increase is in those who think brands should donate money (+11 percent from 43 to 54 percent). Meanwhile, 13 percent want to see firms create humorous content to watch or read (an increase of four percent). 

Research found that the majority of Americans are buying more compared to last week. It won’t surprise you to read that food and paper products have increased the most, leading to supply shortage across the country. 

Snacks have experienced the biggest surge from 16 to 36 percent. But cleaning products remains at the top of everyone's shopping list with an increase of 29 to 40 percent. Canned and frozen foods are up there, too. 

Alexis Fragale, director of consumer insights at Mindshare USA

"Undeniably, there’s heightened emotion overall and a sense of living in uncertainty. Looking at what consumers believe, they want brands to step up and help our fellow humans; consumers want to see brands helping those in need, not just those who grow their business – whether that’s through donations or making sure a brand’s employees are being taken care of. There’s a strong sense of empathy as it’s something that’s affecting everyone, and if it can align to a brand’s purpose or values the action is even more amplified.

"The truth is that the next steps forward are going to be different for each brand, depending not just on their category, but a whole swath of other attributes (not least the fact that the situation is still evolving daily). 

"But no matter what, brand agility is now more important than ever. For some brands, they’re exploring donating their media to organizations like the World Health Organization. For others, you have to look at if there’s another type of service or message that they can provide to support others."

Overall, 72 percent of those surveyed feel more negative about the situation. Anxiety, stress, frustration, fear, feelings of sadness and being overwhelmed have all climbed by an average of around eight percent in the space of a week. But so have feelings of hopefulness and preparation.

Americans say they’ve become more informed, especially about government policies, likely due to the series of official briefings. When it comes to getting their information, TV news stations like FOX and CNN are the most used and trusted, according to the study. Social media sits at the bottom of top ten most trusted sources. 

Around 25 percent of affluent Americans (with a household income of $100,000+) say that government websites are the most trusted channel of information.

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