Managing Model Saliency And Perceived Worth
The rules for the perceived value change in the middle of COVID-19. The pandemic has uncovered new drivers of perceived value, threats to named brands, and ways to protect and grow your brand in this crisis and beyond.
What we can learn from the great recession
Some brands survived and prospered after the 2008 recession by strengthening their value proposition, achieving unique benefits and maintaining a close relationship with their customers.
For example, Target expanded its presence and expanded its food offering by promoting its own private labels. The brand also began working with top designers to create unique, affordable designs that were only available from Target.
Starbucks also launched My Starbucks Idea, a platform that allows customers to share ideas with each other and directly with the coffee shop. The participants were able to express their opinion on everything from the product to service, shop layout, advertising, corporate social responsibility and music in the shop.
Other brands broke through in 2008 with a new, outstanding value proposition: Airbnb offered a new and unique travel option as an alternative to the traditional hotel stay. Credit Karma took advantage of consumers' desire for a quick, easy, and free way to monitor their creditworthiness without having to deal with the bureaucracy of the major rating agencies. Uber was introduced to make travel easy, convenient and affordable for consumers.
The new drivers of perceived value
The Ipsos Brand Health database contains more than 30,000 stock studies and shows that innovation, quality and relevance promote the perception of value in most product categories in normal times. However, Covid-19 establishes new rules: The most important functional attributes that determine the perceived value are now comfort (40%) and physical availability (52%) as well as emotional benefits and in particular social responsibility and brand proximity. In fact, brands have to serve their purpose by helping their customers, supporting the community and protecting their employees. People also want brands to feel close to them during this difficult time and expect ads to make them feel safe, positive and optimistic.
Private labels threaten well-known brands
The rise of private labels further underlines the importance of brand value. Ipsos Covid-19 omnibus data shows that 42% of the participants intend to buy private labels for household products, food and beverages, nutritional supplements and even beauty products more frequently. Private labels had started to disrupt categories before Covid-19. However, initial bottlenecks in the product range led consumers to introduce new private labels into their routine, as these were often the only brands that were still on the shelves. Private labels continue to gain importance beyond CPG. Amazon has launched numerous private labels, including Amazon Basics, Rivet (home textiles) and Mountain Falls (personal care). The Home Depot with HDX and Best Buy with Insignia, to name just a few examples.
How to protect and grow your brand in the middle of COVID-19
Brand managers need to adjust their strategy to align with the new drivers of perceived value and to prevent competition from private labels.
- Build closeness by demonstrating empathy and adopting the right tone
The pandemic forced most major cities to cancel their St. Patrick's Day parades, which is usually a key event on the Guinness Calendar. But Guinness made the most of this situation by posting an ad that encouraged people to celebrate St. Patrick's Day safely at home. "Don't worry, we're going to march again" and "If you raise a pint of Guinness, remember to raise each other up," says the Irish-accented spokesman, touching our citizen soul instead of trying to sell us beer.
Historical Ipsos MMA benchmarks show that brands that advertise in recessive times tend to gain a share of the voice and market share. These brands also recover faster and outperform the competition in the next one to two years. On the other hand, brands that go “dark” suffer long-term losses in brand value and are faced with increased costs in the short term, as they often rely on advertising and discounts to drive purchases.
- From attention to memory
As Benoit Tranzer, global brand expert at Ipsos, found, brands have to switch from attention to memory. Attention is about saturating the mind of the consumer at the moment of choice by maximizing the frequency of exposure. In contrast, Memory Salience is about creating new positive mental associations for the brand. Memory Salience emphasizes the reach of repetitions and creates a rich network of interconnected memories.
In his “Courage is beautiful” campaign, Dove shows the faces of healthcare workers who are identified by the protective mask they have worn. Dove's campaign recognizes that talking about beauty seems superficial in times of COVID-19 and celebrates "Real Beauty" by evoking memories and brand associations in a timely and relevant manner.
Co-author with Megan Tiedt, Ipsos
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