New Research Shows How Consumers Want Brands to React to the Pandemic

Agility and transparency are critical now and will define your future value

Consumers aren’t interested in engaging with brands that are tone-deaf to the global crisis. As they adapt to a new daily reality, they expect brands to do the same.

This means that marketers must reevaluate ad campaign strategies, messaging and budgets accordingly, and above all, deliver transparent and thoughtful communications to their customers.

To get a better understanding of how consumers are viewing social advertising right now, asked U.S. adults what they’re seeing across social media platforms and how that’s impacting their opinion of brands.

This research found that consumers are already noticing a shift in marketing strategies. More so, they’re open to the change in messaging—83% said they want brands to address the pandemic directly in their communications.

How your brand approaches today’s crisis will define its public perception for months and years to come. For marketing teams looking to use this time to build meaningful relationships with consumers, here are three key findings to consider.

Consumers are spending more time scrolling

Social media consumption is at an all-time high, and brands are increasingly using social channels to communicate with their customers. The study found that the most popular platforms are visually driven. A majority (79%) of respondents are using Facebook, 46% are using Instagram and 44% are using YouTube. It also found that the most popular ad formats are video ads (29%) and photo carousels (27%).

That said, brands should prioritize thoughtful and authentic copy and creative that grabs attention and speaks to the situation. During a time when people are more likely to engage, it’s important to optimize ad real estate with strong creative content to increase both engagement and brand loyalty.

Address the situation

Adapting to the situation, being transparent and addressing consumer concerns head-on has proved to be the best approach for brands. Almost half of respondents (46%) said they are more willing to engage with ads because of the pandemic. Don’t let this opportunity go to waste.

Specifically, a vast majority (83%) of respondents said they would like to see brands react to the pandemic in their advertising with messaging about preventative measures like social distancing (28%), products that are useful to the stay-at-home economy (31%) and philanthropy (24%). Your role in the market after the pandemic depends on how well you help your customers through their current challenges.

With a growing humanitarian mindset around the world, consumers are more likely to invest in brands that are purpose-driven and committed to combating the pandemic. Brands are taking this shift in stride—38% of survey respondents said they saw more ads from brands telling them to stay inside in the last 30 days and another 37% noted seeing more ads from brands related to health and wellness.

Quick optimization and thoughtful creative will set you apart

While certain industries have been hit especially hard by the pandemic, others have established themselves as essential to society. Grocery is one industry that has a huge opportunity to use social advertising to drive online orders, especially as many consumers are using these services for the first time.

In fact, respondents selected grocery as the category they are most open to purchasing based on online ads. Further, 41% of respondents said they would spend up to $100 on items they saw on social media. Offering hyper-relevant products with appropriate messaging is one way that brands can show awareness and reduce friction in the purchase journey.

The current landscape is changing daily and brands must adapt their strategies in real-time to reflect consumers’ needs and desires. The initial surge in panic buying has died down as consumers realize this might be the new normal for an extended period of time. Your brands’ ability to quickly optimize ads and creative for the present climate will be key to its success.

For advertisers, the current goal is to provide consumers with products relevant to their reality and to do so as authentically as possible. Covid-19 has made one thing certain—now is not the time to shy away from your customers.

Robert Rothschild oversees the global marketing team at, the leading social advertising automation platform for creative and performance marketers. He has experience on both the client and agency side and has focused the majority of his career in various product strategy, management, marketing and marketing strategy roles at companies including HP, Oracle and SAP.