The Best Thing Brands Can Do during the Crisis

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McCann Worldgroup Truth Central found the best things a brand can do includes looking after their employees and spreading happiness, according to the global survey
The Best Thing Brands Can Do during the Crisis
McCann Worldgroup’s global thought leadership unit, McCann Worldgroup Truth Central, conducted 'Truth About Culture and Covid-19 Wave 3' - the third global study on ongoing shifts of consumer attitudes regarding Covid-19 pandemic in early April.

This research was conducted in fifteen countries around the world, including Japan, amongst 15,000 people (1,000 people in each country) as the third wave following the first wave in early March, and the second wave at the end of March. The beginning of the research coincided with the government declaring a state of emergency in seven key markets in Japan on 7th April and continued for four days, which was when interest for the impact of staying at home would have on their lives was high.

When asked about the most important thing brands and businesses can do to help in the crisis, 6/10 people globally said “look after their employees” according to 'Truth About Culture and Covid-19 Phase 3', a study on the pandemic by McCann Worldgroup’s global intelligence unit. Released today, the report explores the crucial role brands are playing during the crisis as well as the ongoing shifts in global consumer attitudes regarding Coronavirus.

With the possibility of a global depression growing increasingly real, financial concerns are top of mind around the world. 56% of people globally say that they are worried that the economy will suffer, up from 48% a month ago. This concern is especially felt in the US (from 56% to 66%), UK (42% to 64%) and France (52% to 62%). 31% of people globally say that they are concerned that they will lose their job or struggle financially as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, up from 21% a month ago. This jumps to 62% from 54% in Japan. 31% of people globally say that they are concerned that they will lose their job or struggle financially as a result of the outbreak, up from 21% a month ago. This jumps from 35% in the first wave to 58% in Japan.

The world is not just fighting a viral Coronavirus pandemic, it’s contending with a tidal wave of viral fake news and misinformation. 3/10 people globally say they don’t know what information they can trust (rising to 47% in France). 1/5 people globally say that they’ve stopped reading the news as it upsets them. In Japan there is confusion over what guidelines and procedures to follow, with 3/10 Japanese people saying, “I really don’t know what the rules are.”

Across the board new voices of authority are emerging in these uncertain times: more than a third of people believe that scientists are todays true heroes. In contrast, a quarter of people globally believe that their government has let them down, 45% in Japan, 42% in Spain, 35% in the US. In Germany, 39% of people thought their government is prepared to deal with the outbreak and only 9% said they were let down.


When asked about their most trusted sources for understanding the pandemic, the top source globally is still mainstream news media (45%) but interestingly this varies across the world. In the case of Japan, 65% said mainstream news media is most trusted while in Germany, 41% said they turn to government politicians. A third of people in China say that brands are their most trusted source of truth. When asked “What are the best things brands and businesses can do to help in the crisis?” The study reveals that 59% of people globally want companies to look after their employees, 50% want to see brands focusing on creating vital resources like ventilators, masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE). 42% reduce prices, offer promotions. 37% of people globally believe that governments and companies should work together to solve the Coronavirus
crisis. 38% feel brands should help people understand the truth. 29% to cheer people up/spread happiness.

4/10 people globally say that the crisis will inspire new innovations. Many brands have already stepped up and responded to the pandemic with tremendous creativity and innovation; 1/5 people globally say that they are inspired by the creativity they’ve seen in response to the pandemic. The same response is seen in Japan. Brands can spread happiness and positivity at a time when the news is relentlessly negative.

McCann Worldgroup’s chairman and CEO Harris Diamond noted: “The first two rounds of this study revealed tremendous opportunity for brands to generate real impact in this stressful time. The most recent data indicates that, by and large, brands are rising to the occasion by serving as pillars of truth, trust and comfort when people are most in need. At the same time, attitudes and concerns are in constant flux, making it imperative for brands to keep abreast of the current consumer mindset in order to continually play a crucial, meaningful role in the lives of their audiences.”

58% of people in Japan believe one of the best things a brand and business can do is to help people understand the truth. People are worried they will lose their job and struggle financially, and are looking towards companies that are looking after their employees and supporting preventing the spread of the virus. Also 30% of people believe that brands can cheer-up people and spread happiness. With a second wave of cases, there is confusion over what guidelines and procedures to follow, with 3/10 Japanese people saying: “I really don’t know what the rules are.” This gap in
information and truth provides an opportunity for brands to help.

Antony Cundy, president and CEO of McCann Worldgroup Japan commented: “Three waves of global research reveals how people’s thinking and evaluation evolves depending on the timing and stage of the pandemic, including the spread of the virus and situations such as self-isolation. Particularly in Japan, dissatisfaction rising from uncertainty about the economy and employment is heightening, which provides an opportunity for companies and brands to strengthen trust, if information of real public value can be communicated at the right time.”

McCann Japan’s executive planning director, Yoshi Matsuura added: “A characteristic of this research is that it has been conducted around the world over time. As wave three in Japan was fielded immediately after the government declared the state of emergency, the surge of anxiety from 64% to 81% is prominent. On the other hand, “my government has let us down” at 45% is high compared to other countries. Hence expectations for brands in Japan being high including partnering with government is a characteristic of Japan. People are watching what brands can do under these circumstances. Lastly, we as a company are conducting this research and putting together cases both from Japan and around the world to share, so if there are companies who are interested, please do contact us.”
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