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Consumers Overwhelmed By Businesses’ COVID-19 Marketing Communications


Emerging data shows businesses that get their communications wrong during the coronavirus pandemic could face the public boycotting their brand.

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With an increasing number of industries and companies impacted from the coronavirus pandemic, businesses are working hard to communicate effectively with their target audiences.

But according to new research carried out in the United Kingdom, a third (32 per cent) of the UK feel they have received “too much” or “far too much” content and information from businesses relating to coronavirus. A quarter (23 per cent) of respondents find the level of communications from businesses overwhelming; a fifth said it’s worrying, and one in ten are annoyed by businesses contacting them in the current climate.

The data also revealed businesses getting their communications wrong during the pandemic are likely to face disastrous consequences. According to the survey of 2,000 respondents, commissioned by Unhooked Communications, more than one in ten people have boycotted a business altogether because of the content or information they’ve shared.

Men are more likely to stop giving businesses their custom than women, with 14 per cent saying they’d boycotted in response to coronavirus comms, compared to 9 per cent of women.

People aged between 25 and 34 are most likely to boycott a business because of getting their Covid-19 comms wrong (20 per cent), followed by 35-44 year olds (19 per cent) and 18-24 year olds (14 per cent). Those aged 55 and over were the least likely to boycott a company (5 per cent), and 9 per cent of 45-54 year olds said they would stop buying products or services from a business if they felt communication about coronavirus was off the mark.

Additionally, one in ten people have seen businesses they don’t trust sharing information they’re not sure is accurate. On top of this, 28 per cent of consumers have received Covid-19 emails from businesses they don’t remember signing up for or haven’t heard from in a long time, raising questions about whether businesses are complying to GDPR legislation in a bid to reconnect with their databases.

A number of respondents stated they would rather receive no communications from businesses relating to coronavirus, while others said they only wanted to get information from the NHS or the Government.

In contrast, 61 per cent thought businesses were getting the level of Covid-19 comms right; 28 per cent said they were ‘thankful’ for businesses’ content, and nearly a quarter (24 per cent) said they had been left feeling ‘positive’.

Over a third (36 per cent) have seen organisations sharing ‘useful’ information, and over a fifth (23 per cent) have seen businesses sharing thoughtful or good news, which made them feel better about the current situation.

Claire Gamble, MD at Unhooked Communications, said: “A lot of businesses are understandably looking at how they’re communicating with their customers during the global coronavirus crisis. But while consumers are responding positively to those who take the time to get their approach right, businesses that have a knee-jerk reaction are finding themselves in the spotlight for the wrong reasons.

“It’s great to see that helpful content and good news is helping people to feel more positive in these uncertain times. But there’s a risk that some businesses could be contributing to the panic and uncertainty. With 24/7 rolling news, social media and the situation changing constantly, businesses need to consider whether they really need to add to the noise out there.

“Before sending out comms, businesses should assess their operations first and make sure they’re doing everything they possibly can to protect and support their employees, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders. If they don’t, any communications they send out – even with the best of intentions – could backfire.  If they do have relevant and necessary information to send out, they need to consider what and how they communicate this.”

The research found the most popular channel for consumers to receive information from businesses relating to Covid-19 was email, which was the preferred choice for 37 per cent of respondents. This was followed by the media, which 30 per cent said was their preferred channel to access information.

Only 6 per cent of respondents said they liked to get the information from social media. This was followed by accessing information directly from businesses’ website (5 per cent), text or instant message (4 per cent), direct physical mail (2 per cent), word of mouth from family and friends (2 per cent), and phone (2 per cent). One in ten people had no preferred channel of communications.

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