Pandemic lesson – Brands cannot fool consumers

Brands don’t operate in isolation. They are social animals too. When society is in trouble, brands need to rise to the occasion and help. This, in a nutshell, is what consumers in India expect from Brands. 

A recent special report on Brand Trust and Coronavirus Pandemic by Edelman highlights that Indian consumers want brands to demonstrate they care for employees and society at large. Whether they will buy a brand or not in the future depends on this, say consumers.

It is not about Money

It essentially means that doing the right thing is a must. It is the primary criterion. Nearly 90% of the respondents of the Edelman Survey from India say they would like to know completely how a brand is protecting is employees and customers.  

Respondents of the survey also want brands to solve problems people are facing due to the pandemic. They expect brands to take up production of products that can be a lifesaver or help the public in these times.

Nearly 70% of the respondents say if their favourite brand places profits before people during this crisis, they will lose their (respondents) trust forever. 

Consumer is the real King!

In another development, Liverpool Football Club (LFC), one of the most popular football clubs in the English Premier League received a lot of flak from fans when it said it is placing some non-playing staff on temporary leave. Fans took to social media to protest and vent their anger. Some said as a mark of protest they will not buy LFC merchandise and will not renew the club membership. 

This prompted the Club to reverse its decision within a matter of days and apologise to its fans. The Club said it is finding alternate means to pay staff. 

LFC incident highlights the fact that the more successful and popular a brand is, more is consumers expectation in today’s time that it behaves responsibly.

Trust is a two-way street

In today’s unprecedented crisis, it is just not enough if the brand delivers a good product at a good price. This alone does not earn consumers’ trust.

Gone are the days when one was patted on the back for seeing a crisis as both a danger and an opportunity for a new business that enhances profits. The Trust Barometer Survey emphatically points out that brands should keep profit-making motive aside, forget selling, and be compassionate and human. Consumers expect these in a brand’s communication strategy too. Nearly 60 per cent of those surveyed said they do not want a brand’s advertising to be humorous or light-hearted Instead, focus on how the brand is helping public deal with the pandemic. 

The Liverpool backlash by fans and supporters has demonstrated this. Die-hard fans and supporters who are with the club for decades were ready to shun it as they viewed the Club’s decision in-human and self-centred.

In short, consumers will give a thumbs up to those brands who focus on people, planet and profits (in that order) which is the ethical measure of business.


The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Radha Radhakrishnan
Radha Radhakrishnan has over 25 years of experience in corporate communications and marketing across different industries and geographies. She has built a reputation as a storyteller and a creative thinker. She has mentored social entrepreneurial startups and has been a visiting faculty at premier communications institutes in India. She is currently the global head of corporate communications at Wipro Enterprises.

1 Comment on "Pandemic lesson – Brands cannot fool consumers"

  1. great read. consumers want responsible brands.

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