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The Innovation team at Instinctif harness the best of the future to deliver market-leading ideas in the present. The team’s specialism spans digital strategy and marketing, data & analytics, and strategic brand. This fortnightly update shares top tips to help you foster creative and challenge the status quo and summarises the news that matters.

Brand behaviour: building loyalty

Guest article: We’re collaborating with partners across Innovation’s network and community to deliver you the very latest news, views and insights. This week, market research company GlobalWebIndex’s Trends Manager, Chase Buckle, explores how he’s seeing the role of brands evolve during times of uncertainty.

In the midst of a global public health crisis, there’s never been a more important time for brands to build loyalty and trust.

The impact of the Coronavirus can be seen across the board. Entire sections of the economy have been put on hold, furloughs and lay-offs have heightened anxiety, remote workers are finding new ways of separating work and home life, and those workers still keeping society moving are facing putting themselves and their families at risk.

When it comes to brand responsibilities, the boundaries between customers and employees are now well and truly blurred. And in the current situation, society – consumers and colleagues alike – moves to lean on the institutions who have the resources and means of production to help out – including brands and businesses.

UK businesses have, on the whole, been nimble in responding to the crisis, and that level of response has led to strong approval scores in the UK. Our insights have found that almost 60% in the UK approve of how large corporations have handled the crisis, putting them a short distance away from the government’s approval rates (at 64%).

There’s a clear demand among consumers to find out about what brands are doing – almost three in four in the UK either want brands to run advertising showing how they’re responding to Coronavirus or contact customers to inform them of their crisis response.

To maintain positive brand communications at this time, companies can publicly demonstrate empathy and support for their staff by targeting one of the most prevalent issues we’re seeing in the UK during the crisis – mental health.

Between 40-50% of the UK population say they’re currently experiencing an increase in anxiety and stress. Most tellingly, 36% want employers to do more to support people’s mental health, putting them ahead of healthcare providers in this respect. It’s important to note that feelings of stress, anxiety, depression and panic are most prevalent among females and those in the lower income group.

For employers maintaining large remote workforces at this time, this is an opportunity to raise awareness and share practical advice on how to alleviate common stress-inducers. Aside from logistical issues in working from home, almost 40% of remote workers in the UK say they’re struggling to separate work-home life, 34% are suffering from a lack of routine, 27% report feeling isolated or lonely (peaking among younger workers), and 15% are struggling with childcare duties.

Our wider research into COVID-19 shows that brands have evolved in the consumer mindset into the role of ‘information givers’ and sources of expertise who can be drawn on in the crisis. This includes detailing their own plans. There’s much more to giving people advice beyond reminding them to stay at home and wash their hands. Society is looking at a whole new set of circumstances and priorities, and more needs to be done to mitigate against increased stress, anxiety and loneliness as people are forced to balance the wellbeing of themselves, their families, and their livelihoods.

And in their role as employers, brands need to publicly match the expectations placed upon them through their communications, focusing on being open, agile and available – especially as our research shows us that remote working practices increasingly look to be a prominent future of the post-Coronavirus landscape.

GlobalWebIndex is a market research company, with technology at its core. Learn more about its work here.

Tool of the week

The lockdown has turned even the most resistant of us into banana bread baking, yoga-practicing, epidemiological experts.

And for those who want to add another string to their bow, Edx, platform for education and learning, is helping you learn new skills from the likes of Harvard University and Princeton – and, naturally, from the comfort of your own home.

The app allows you to explore online courses from the best universities and top institutions, with courses as far-ranging as ‘Masterpieces of Modern Literature’ to the timely sounding ‘Improving Your Business Through a Culture of Health’.

You can stream or download online courses to watch at a time to suit you, so make use of that non-commuting time to fill your head with knowledge from one of the platform’s 2,500 online courses.

Top tip

This week’s tip comes from the Head of Innovation, Anna Younger:

In isolation we can feel more removed from each other than ever. But this week I loved having the chance to be reminded of how lives are continuing behind the closed doors, through the lens of New York Times photographers.

The newspaper’s photo series “Still Lives” gives a snapshot of the ‘new normal’ from the perspective of its contributors – from the emergency nurse seeing the impact of Coronavirus first-hand to the woman in quarantine with her pregnant church pastor wife.

It’s a reminder of the things that we can find comfort in during this time – family, taking time for reflection and small acts of compassion.

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