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Posted by Brittany on April 17, 2020

In Part 1 of our Conscious Consumer conversation, we addressed public attitudes about brands and the environment. We emphasized that as the population's concerns about the environment grow–many brands are adapting in an effort to do better. We also noted the gap between brands on the cutting edge and how many are falling behind. 

In Part 2 of the series, we want to shift the conversation towards what it means to be a conscious consumer in a crisis. Today, we are all dealing with COVID-19 and it has dramatically affected how and where we are spending our money. Not only are there significantly fewer options, but consumers are faced with a recurring moral dilemma–who do I want to support right now?  


Local Love 

This crisis has been detrimental for small businesses and employees especially, but communities are rallying. Calls for support are everywhere, from print ads, to community groups and anything in between. The push towards local business has been growing in popularity, especially during the holidays, but is now prevalent just about everywhere you look.

Even big brands such as Kraft are using some of their own marketing assets to help the cause. Scrapping their own marketing plans and offering free content and paid amplification to restaurants and bakeries that are offering takeout and delivery. 



Coming Together

The industries most affected are not sitting back and waiting for handouts. Many restaurants are attempting to continue with business as usual–relying on food delivery apps and curbside pickup to help meet their margins. In fact, the restaurant industry has come together to create Canada Takeout

Canada Takeout is a movement encouraging people to eat local on Wednesdays if they have the means. They suggest that it is a win-win by providing people the food they love, supporting local businesses, and taking part in a group initiative designed to unite us all. 

While this might not make up for the loss of revenue brought by declining foot traffic, it is a local initiative that will likely be embraced by many.



Human Touch

The conscious consumer has held a magnifying glass to companies both large and small; watching as they react, respond and adapt to the crisis as it unfolds. Are they helping, serving others, supporting the community, or just following the status quo? 

Galen G. Weston has been navigating the Loblaw’s brand through the pandemic. His heartfelt communication to customers, assuring them that shelves will remain stocked, has helped provide calm during the storm, as food scarcity suddenly becomes a real concern for many. His staff, overnight heroes, are being thanked and rewarded. All Loblaw employees will be getting a 15% pay increase as a form of hazard pay, as grocery store workers are faced by the front-line each day, and are constantly at risk of contracting the virus. It might be a strong move from a public relations perspective, but even more so, it is a testament to authentically humanizing a brand in an effort to connect on a personal level. 

As a marketer, watching brands respond to this crisis has been a fascinating exercise. While there are no winners in times of a global crisis, we would bet that it is the companies that can connect to their consumers, continue to build relationships, and give back to the community that will weather this storm and come out the other side stronger and more resilient. 

How are you communicating with your customers during the crisis?