COVID-19 Litmus Test: The Most-Affected Consumers Have Different Needs, Expectations

Email marketers should consider just much their customers were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic when targeting them for campaigns.  

The people most affected by the crisis have different brand expectations, according to “The Disruption of Reality As We Know It,” a study by the Masters of Marketing Research program at the University of Georgia and measurement firm Worthix.  

Worthix analyzed customer driver sentiments of 8,924 individuals, based on five scores:

  • Quality 
  • Relationship 
  • Brand Identification
  • Social Proof 
  • Relative Price

It found that social proof had the lowest impact among the least-affected consumers, but was the third-most potent driver among those who were most affected by it. 

Analysis of data of 5,033 people showed that the least affected experienced a 8.3 social proof impact, versus 22.8 among the most affected -- a lift of 174.7%, the study notes. This may denote that people want to know a company’s values.   



Relative price also increased its effect among the most-affected group. But quality brand Identification and relationship had a diminished impact.

The study also documents a return to the basics by consumers. 

“Individuals who felt impacted by the pandemic shifted their focus away from less essential experiences,” the study states. “In terms of entertainment, individuals became more relaxed in their quantity expectations for movies.” 

The report continues that retail customers were “less focused on staff treatment and more on the products themselves.” And people were more focused on essential services such as ATM availability. 

Case in point:  the transportation industry is facing a rival of “one of its most of its most core and fundamental attributes: safely transporting passengers from one point to another, perhaps even more so than before the pandemic,” the study reports. 

Brands can expect these expectations and behaviors to continue in the post-COVID-19 world. 

“For companies to survive this new context, they will need to learn what is worth it for customers faster than ever,” the study concludes. “The opinions and experiences of customers will become increasingly important as will the need to evaluate more subtle aspects of customers’ existing choices and alternatives.”

This will require a new focus on understanding the consumer, and on processes that can help marketers do so. Companies with “the ability to have empathy at scale will be the leaders of the future,” the study concludes. 


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