Microsoft: Where Brand Loyalty Fits And The Impact Of COVID-19

Consumers continue to experience economic and personal disruption despite U.S. government bailouts, stores re-opening and more people being vaccinated.

All come into careful considerations when consumers spend, according to data from Microsoft. The change comes into play because more than before, consumers now support those who support their own values, and those values are as multidimensional and multifaceted as each individual.

Microsoft calls their strategy to reach these individuals marketing with purpose -- but it is more than a tagline, because consumers now want more. For example:

  • 63% expect companies to continue efforts around social and environmental issues, even after the pandemic
  • 67% of respondents want brands to donate to people who have lost wages
  • 71% of Americans believe companies have more responsibility than ever before to address social justice issues

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McKinsey conducted a study at the onset of the pandemic that found certain industries were disproportionately affected by the pandemic because they employed more women, and there were 2.5 percentage points more females unemployed during 2020, compared with the 2008 recession.

The pandemic also impacted childcare. Women caring for children are only able to participate in the workforce when they have access to work-family supports, including childcare.

Compared to non-pandemic times, mothers experienced the most dramatic labor participation dips out of fathers, women without children, and men. All this changes brand loyalty.

One pattern that emerged in 2020 is that consumers now determine the value of their relationship with brands beyond the price. Some 56% of people said they have increased how much they spend at small and local businesses during COVID-19 to help keep them in business, and 72% said that supporting a small business is more important today than in prior years.

Brands that champion their ethos around key social issues drive a sense of connection to the possibility of influencing these systems.

Gaining trust with consumers means looking beyond what they want and focus on what they expect and need.

  • Be inclusive — it drives trust, loyalty, and purchase intent.
  • Determine what your brand stands for — infuse values in your marketing and advertising. Values drive value for you and your customers.
  • Don’t play it safe — incorporate words, images, and stories that are inclusive. Define how you want your brand to be represented in both words and images.
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