The continuation of COVID precautions and rising costs due to inflation will impact all corners of life and create challenges to the economy. The entire retail and business infrastructure is still taxed with staffing issues and supply chain problems, largely disconnecting products and services from buyers. Besides these operational and financial challenges brands faced, consumers became more aware of how companies operate. More than ever, brands are under increasing pressure to understand how these ongoing challenges impact their business, competition and the bottom line.
When shelter in place started over a year ago, consumers became hyper-aware of their consumption because certain items and brands were no longer readily available.
Consumers now know about the supply chains of many popular brands and why their products are unavailable or cannot be found on shelves. Consumers began to want information related to the sourcing and steps products took to get to them in light of the unknowns surrounding COVID contraction. This level of transparency with consumers has forced many brands to provide their processes and logistics.
For consumers, this knowledge is part of the buying decision. They might switch to a more available brand or one they feel is better at addressing the interests of the public’s health. A brand’s supply chain and employee relations have been used as a differentiator in some sectors, but recent events are now an impetus for brands to think about and prepare for how to provide this level of information.
Along with brands increasing supply chain transparency, the scrutiny of brand ethos has become a discussion point in the media. Protests worldwide supported reforms and changes related to Black Lives Matter have widened the discussion regarding how companies engage, represent, and support minorities. Additionally, the treatment and policies related to staff and their health regarding COVID and the ability to work from home or be able to protect themselves when working against COVID, as added to the list of items a buyer may use in brand selection depending on if that brand is aligned with their own ethos.
For a brand, the desire to remain connected with loyal consumers and continue to garner new customers and the priority of reviewing the pros and cons of changing the brands look and their messaging are not a small matter. In some cases, the shift from decades-old branding will be a significant move within a company and sector.
We will continue to see the social narrative motivate brands to evaluate their brand equity and decide if changes might be beneficial for both near and long-term growth. To rebuild a go-forward plan or to pivot away from what is no longer desired will require research and insights to craft the next generation of their brand image and how they want to be seen by their customers.
Not unlike the public who adjusted their routines, shopping, and lifestyles, brands will need to adjust how they engage, message, and represent themselves to consumers. The trends and information from previous studies may no longer be useful in light of the recent events affecting their consumer base. What a brand cannot be is neutral during these times. The call is to be proactive in learning and understanding such concerns while pursuing a strategy that recognizes the risks and opportunities they may face.
By employing the use of brand tracking studies, companies can capture the consumer’s drivers and sentiments with respect to how recent events have influenced their buying decisions. While many companies may have existing studies in place, the realities of today require an objective review of what the study provides as it may no longer be relevant to the target audience.
Additionally for companies who have not maintained or done a brand health study, the benefits of this investment can help foster better-informed strategy decisions when looking ahead both for the remainder of the year and onward. Since brand tracking can include dynamics pertaining to consumers, competition, social and economic aspects, companies can get a data-supported assessment of the public views them.
If you would like to learn more about the different brand health tracking approaches or start building a tracking study, click here to learn how Socratic’s Brand Health Tracking enables companies to make informed and data-supported strategy decisions.