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How Brands Can Extend Their 15 Minutes of Fame

How Brands Can Extend Their 15 Minutes of Fame

Horst Feldhaeuser


The coronavirus pandemic has cast a winning spotlight on a select few brands, while punishing many others. Here are the consumer insight techniques all organizations can use to share the stage.

Sick of talking about COVID-19 and its impacts? Maybe. But we can’t ignore this pivotal global reality and its ongoing significance on the way we do business. Depending on the specific industry sector or product, the pandemic’s effects have had widely felt consequences. Travel websites like Expedia have experienced plummets in bookings near 90%, while online connectivity apps like Zoom have shot from 10 million daily meeting participants to 300 million in just a few short months (adjusted verbiage that had earlier stated “daily users”).

Many researchers have been scrambling to track and analyze these types of shifting consumer needs and behaviors as the pandemic unfolds. We know that when we finally emerge, behaviors will change again. Zoom is an excellent example for further examination. Will it replace face-to-face meetings altogether, as it has done during the height of the crisis? Probably not. But the crisis has indeed made Zoom meetings and calls much more acceptable—even for major presentations.

This speaks to a hybrid of behaviors in our future. If live sporting events in my home country of New Zealand are any indication, people will return to some pandemic-forbidden pastimes with unbridled enthusiasm. However, I think we can agree that the long-term impacts—both physical and psychological—are not going away and will continue to influence customers and users.


How can brands like Zoom, which are enjoying a high level of attention, continue to ride the wave? Conversely, how can brands that have been hit hard by the crisis, such as the travel and hospitality industry, best find ways to get back on solid ground? The foundation to answering these questions lies in holistic, nimble consumer insights. Brands who hold the spotlight right now—and brands that need a bit more stage time—can use the same techniques to help them understand how to best pivot and meet future audience needs.

Have a Deep Understanding of Audience Sentiment and Behavior

This goes well beyond launching a survey and categorizing the results. You must marry multiple data sources together to create the big picture when it comes to the individuals who make up your key audiences. This can include everything from sales data to qualitative focus group feedback and even neuroscience tracking. The trick is to harmonize these varied data sources so that they can tell you what’s really important to your consumers.

Things Are Changing Fast—You Need Insights Even Faster

If you’ve felt that the last few months have been a rollercoaster, you’re not alone. Your audience feels this way too, and as their environment changes, so do their behaviors and feelings. Having the right type of system, process or technology to easily update your insights with new data, “crunch the numbers” and get instant answers is essential. You need to stay a step ahead and start being proactive, not reactive, when it comes to serving your audience.

Adopt New Metrics and Make Changes to Your Tracker

We know that one of the main barriers of making significant changes to any tracker is the trend break that ultimately ensues. If anything, COVID-19 has forced those trend breaks on us already. I’d argue that now is the time to make changes and have a measure that drives your business and works for your participants. Align your questionnaire with your business outcomes, focus on key drivers that impact these outcomes, cut all the “nice to have” questions, embrace alternative data collection options, and go from recall to in-the-moment measurement. Seize this unique opportunity to future-proof your trackers!

The pandemic has forced us to do things differently. In doing so, we’ve found ease and convenience on many fronts, such as meeting by Zoom and working remotely. For example, our team at Infotools went from a nearly 100% work-from-the-office model (pre-pandemic) to a 100% work-from-home model (height of pandemic). Following New Zealand lifting restrictions due to extremely low COVID-19 cases (at the time of this writing), we have found a balance where most people work a couple of days in the office (safely) and the rest from home. This model probably would never have been tested and approved without the impetus of the crisis.

As it becomes safe, there will be a middle ground like this for most of our activities. While behaviors and sentiment probably won’t go all the way back to pre-COVID levels, our reality will be changed for good. Brands and companies need the right way to approach and use consumer insights to understand how they can continue—or renew once again—their place in the spotlight.

Photo by rangizzz via Adobe Stock.

Horst Feldhaeuser is group services director for Infotools. He is a multi-award-winning research professional with more than two decades of experience in market research, marketing and business consulting.