How brands have gone tribal during Covid-19 crisis

7 August 2020

How has the Covid-19 crisis impacted on brands? Has the crisis changed how people think about them and will all of them come out of it stronger, weaker or no different?

Global data consultancy Kantar has been asking these very questions through an excellent series of webinars since March 2020. Whilst very much concerned with consumer brands, we think they have been really interesting as there are considerations for any type of business regardless of which market it serves.

Kantar has been tracking consumer attitudes throughout the crisis and they identified very early that the public could be segmented into six tribes according to their attitude and response to the pandemic. They are as follows – with the proportion of customers that they say identify with each category:

From a marketing point of view, this is an interesting way of segmenting your market or audience. By understanding that these tribes exist, it is possible to tune your messages and proposition accordingly.

Who makes up these groups? Each category is a mix of demographic groups, but some have a higher representation of certain types of consumer than others. For example, people in the Good Citizens, Distressed Dreamers and Precarious Worriers tend to be the older age groups, whereas the opposite is true for the Ostriches and Que Seras – makes sense when you think about it, when your are young you generally don’t think bad things will happen to you, but as you get older you do!

This model of segmenting consumers into groups like this is interesting and helpful given how brands have had to adapt their messaging and approach during the Covid-19 crisis. Some brands have arguably done better than others, but as Mark Ritson and others highlighted early on the pandemic, there was a slightly bizarre, universal approach in ads by many big brands with lots of solo piano music, slow movement video and an overdose of messages like ‘family’, ‘heritage’ and ‘being here for you’. This video compilation sums up the ‘boring’ and unimaginative response that plastered our media by big brands for weeks very well –

In a sense, this identification of ‘tribes’ into which the public can be neatly categorised is merely an extension of what marketers do all the time. We all know that we you launch a new product, for example, there will be early adopters at one end of the scale and at the other those who are reluctant to change until they see others benefiting first. It feels like the same concept – understand who your customers are, how their attitudes vary and tailor your message, channels and approach accordingly.

We’re ‘always here’ (ahem…) to discuss what form your marketing communications strategy could take – please drop us an email if you think you could benefit from our advice.