Staying Connected with Consumers in Today’s Climate

It’s no surprise that people are leveraging technology in new ways during the current state of physical distancing. They are working remotely, connecting with friends over virtual happy hours, streaming more video content across all devices, and replacing traditional brick-and-mortar shopping trips with online alternatives.

We’re all going through challenges as we adjust to this new normal. And just as people look to stay connected to their friends, family and colleagues, advertisers are searching to understand the best way to connect with their customers during this time.

In an effort to provide some clarity to these questions, Hulu connected with our current viewers to understand how their lives have been impacted by COVID-19 and how advertisers can best connect with them. Here’s a look at what we learned:

It’s No Surprise that TV and Movie Watching is Increasing

As part of adapting to a virtual-first world, 87% of Hulu viewers shared that they are watching more TV and movies. Viewers shared that watching content:

When it comes to content choices, Hulu viewers noted that they are finding comfort in watching comedies, movies, and kids content. In fact, some titles that have experienced big lifts include Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Rick and Morty, and Little Fires Everywhere among others. For more content insights, check out Streaming TV in the Age of Physical Distancing on our Hulu Insights page.

Consumers Are Craving Normalcy and Connection

Consumers are craving “outlets of normalcy” during this changing time. As people engage more with media, they seek a connection with brands and see continued advertising as a sign of normalcy. This came to light in a recent Ipsos study which focused on brand and audience messaging, as well as how advertisers can optimize communications in today’s climate. The results showed that consumers still want to hear from advertisers and they expect companies to continue communication.

Consumers Want to See How Companies are Managing the COVID-19 Situation

Hulu viewers resoundingly (99%) value companies that are jumping in to help with the COVID-19 crisis. Specifically, they appreciate when companies:

Whether donating money or services, producing personal protective equipment or donating supplies to a food bank, 99% of Hulu viewers feel that companies should use their resources to help with the current COVID-19 crisis. One viewer shared:

“I believe that the most important thing that companies should do right now is help in the effort to fight the virus. Whether that is making things for hospitals or helping every-day people cope.”

Regardless of how the brand is offering hospitable donations or actions, 91% of Hulu viewers agree that companies should inform people of what they are doing to combat the Coronavirus.

“Companies number one priority should be the well-being and stability of customers and employees. We are all affected by this.”

In addition, Hulu viewers shared that they appreciate when companies offer free shipping (75%) and discounts/promotional codes (69%) in their advertisements.

Industry Example: How Restaurants are Maintaining Connection & Shifting the Narrative

Focusing on the restaurant industry specifically, we’ve seen many brands shift their advertising narrative from encouraging customers to visit restaurants, to now promoting delivery or take-out, and ordering through the restaurant’s online services.

A recent study by EDO, Inc. provided ad effectiveness insights into how advertisers are pivoting advertising narratives during this time and how those shifts are impacting consumer engagement. This research showed that some restaurants have gone dark with advertisements post March 23, 2020 (COVID-19 benchmark), and have seen a dramatic decrease in their offline search engagement (i.e. uptick in search following an ad airing) than before the COVID-19 outbreak.

Meanwhile, several other quick service chain restaurants have redirected their advertising efforts and increased frequency post March 23, 2020. In turn, these restaurants have seen significant increases in offline search engagement.

The research also uncovered significant performance improvements in brands that are promoting offers and direct acknowledgment of lifestyle changes.

These examples show that maintaining an advertising presence, adjusting messaging and offering discounts leads to increased brand engagement.

RECAP: What Best Practices Should Advertisers Leverage Right Now?

The COVID-19 crisis is affecting all businesses and categories differently. We acknowledge that all companies may not be able to follow these best practices at this time, but when possible, advertisers should:

  • Continue advertising to maintain a connection with their customers
  • Showcase to customers how brands are helping with the COVID-19 crisis
  • Consider adjusting creative messaging to give customers discounted offers

Note: This does not necessarily mean that brands need to build new ads from scratch. Tweaks can be small, like adding a new voice-over or updating an end card on existing creative.

Now more than ever, maintaining connection with your audience (or with consumers) is key. As we continue to navigate through this difficult time, it is encouraging to see so many people and companies coming together to support the greater good. It’s clear that we’re all in this together!

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