Welcome to our brand new insight study, looking at the impacts of the Coronavirus outbreak on our audiences, and exploring what consumers want to see from brands in this time of crisis.
We’re living in unprecedented times. We know this because every news report, email from a colleague and Instagram post from your favourite local restaurant/yoga teacher/cute famous dog says we are.
At the moment everything feels a bit overwhelming, with a lot of news and an avalanche of misinformation. At Channel 4 we pride ourselves in knowing our audience so we turned to our viewer panels, 4Youth and Core4, to explore the impact from a consumer perspective - how they’re feeling, who they trust and what they expect from brands during these… unprecedented times.
We invite you to take a look at the video above (if only for a glimpse into the living rooms of our insight team) for a summary of the research. Click the tab above the video for our take on the outcomes of the research, or jump right into the detail by downloading the full deck straight away.
Plus, if you fancy a chat about the project – or more of your team want to see our living rooms – we’re happy to set up some video calls to talk it through – just head to the contact us link above too.
1: Consumer Behaviour
Part 1 of the study explored changes in trust, attitudes and consumer behaviour amongst our audience due to Covid 19. Below, Lucy Antoniou & Claudia Beith present the findings in an executive summary VT, whilst Sam Cannons, offers her take on the new world we're living in, and what she makes of the insights we discovered in this project.
If the past 4 years have been about the dismissal of experts and truth in exchange for fake news and sensationalist reporting, it appears that one of the few positive effects of this pandemic is that people are now craving the reliability and reputation of trusted news sources… and this is where TV news has seen a huge surge.
Our research has found that TV is by far the most trusted source of information – with 90% of consumers agreeing. When this is contrasted with 65% of consumers trusting newspapers, and just 29% trusting social media, the real impact of the damage the fake news era has done is clear. In a time where people just want answers, they crave clear, concise reporting without bias, so the knowledge that TV has strict regulations to adhere to are a comfort for many.
But it’s not just the actual news content that’s proving to be helpful for people – many of our respondents commented on how it’s also giving much needed structure and routine to their day, becoming an appointment to view in yet another day stuck in indoors. In fact, all types of TV content are thriving in this ‘new normal’, with binge-able boxsets and cheery comedies providing escapism from the goings-on in the world.
Whilst social media has been proven to have a role in keeping us connected from our sofas (another pub quiz on Zoom anyone?!), our research told us that it has predominantly become a source of anxiety, with hoaxes and fake symptoms rife – and this is especially the case for younger consumers, with 64% of 16-34s claiming to have seen fake news about COVID-19 online.
Whilst the various messages about making giant lasagnes at Wembley Stadium were amusing, the way they spread like wildfire via WhatsApp (I got the same message from my colleague, sister and mother-in-law in the space of 5 minutes) show just how quickly anxiety-inducing fake news can infiltrate our lives.
But what do people expect from brands amongst all this news and noise? Well, perhaps surprisingly, the desire for routine and normality doesn’t just stop with the programmes consumers being watched on TV – in fact, 8 in 10 think brands should be continuing to advertise right now. Whilst there is an opportunity to be relevant, with over half of viewers saying they would react warmly to brands adjusting their comms, just being visible and supportive is enough, as many feel that advertising is a small window into what to look forward to when everything ‘gets back to normal’.
Obviously the situation is rapidly evolving, but encouragingly there is plenty of support out there for brands to stay on air to help spread a little joy and initiate acts of kindness – something perfectly exemplified through last week’s #clapforcarers break takeover during the Channel 4 News. Even though we’re living in these unprecedented times the scope for being creative and cutting through to audiences is bigger than ever, and we can’t wait to see what kind of results this has in the coming weeks (maybe a giant lasagne at Wembley Stadium?!)
2: Brand Response
This is the second report in our COVID-19 research series. It naturally builds on the findings from our first report, focusing more narrowly on advertising campaigns that have changed their messaging in light of COVID-19 to see how they resonate with consumers.
We like to talk, and would love to chat to you and your teams about this project - just drop either Lucy or Claudia an email using the below contacts...
Community & Research Manager, Channel 4
Senior research Executive, Channel 4