How Brands Can Communicate with Millennials Effectively During COVID-19

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To say that American life has changed drastically in the past couple of weeks is a gross understatement. With the majority of the country under stay-at-home orders to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and millions of Americans out of work, no matter where we are and our current employment situation, we’re all left feeling anxious and uncertain about the future.

We wanted to see how Millennials are weathering this storm—and how they feel like they’re being communicated with during this pandemic. So Berlin Cameron recently partnered with Perksy to ask them how they’re handling all of this.

The answer is, unfortunately, that they’re not doing great. Seventy-five percent of Millennials think the current situation will get worse, with “worried, anxious, bored, and lonely” as the top ways to describe how they feel during this confusing time. They’re missing outdoor activities and hanging out with their friends the most as they try to occupy their days at home.

There’s a small silver lining for brands, though: 43% of Millennials say brands need to step up and help, with a quarter of them said they have the power to be as impactful as the government. That doesn’t necessarily translate to business as usual, though, seeing as half of people think brands should communicate a message about the current pandemic—now, not later.

So, what can brands expect moving forward? Based on the data we collected, I’ve put together some advice for how brands can best communicate with Millennials once we’ve weathered this storm.

Social media will become more important than ever

In our survey, 67% said that brands should continue their communication on social media during this stressful time—especially when it comes to communicating if and how products are available to order online. Brands should think about how they’re communicating with customers now and translate it into more open, honest communication in the future. One of the positive outcomes of this pandemic is that social media has shifted from FOMO and competition to a place where real, honest, empathetic communication is happening.

Brands should continue to create connections

In addition to social media, Millennials are hungry for ways to connect right now, turning to online tools that help them spend time with friends and family. In the survey, 56% of them said platforms like Zoom, Skype, and Facetime are the social/digital activity they enjoy the most. Once we’re able to spend time together again, connection should be front and center for marketers, with a focus on creating experiences that bring people closer together.

The little things will be more important

One respondent said, “I’m forced to find more joy in the seemingly mundane things I have to do and I’m being more productive than I otherwise would be.” Another said, “I’m spending more mindful time with my husband.” Mindfulness is a word that’s been touted for years but has actually been put into practice recently as we’ve all truly had to take care of ourselves. Brands should celebrate the smaller moments that spark joy, as they’ve become more important than ever.

A new appreciation for being at home is developing

Although Millennials have traditionally valued experiences, they’re discovering ways to enjoy their time working and living at home. One respondent noted, “I’m enjoying relaxing at home and taking time to just take a step back from others and the business of the world.” Instagram shots of cooking, home improvement projects, bread making, and jigsaw puzzles are now the norm. While people will undoubtedly want to get out once the stay-at-home orders lift, these connections to home will still be strong, so brands should develop long-term strategies on how to speak about this new appreciation for the home.

Brands will still have the power to spark change

With so many industries suffering right now, Millennials see an opportunity for brands to help, with 58% believing that they should offer relief pay for furloughed employees. They also think that larger brands, such as spirits brands, could champion the bar and restaurant industry to help it through this difficult time. Partnership and altruism shouldn’t change once things are back to “normal.” They should simply become the new normal.

The tough thing? We really don’t know what the future holds. For now, brands should continue to speak to consumers openly, addressing our thoughts and concerns during this alarming time. Some brands are already heeding the call: Budweiser’s “One Team” commercial tips its hat to the healthcare workers on the front lines, while a new spot from Jack Daniels celebrates the ways in which people are using social media to stay connected. Even Facebook produced a short film titled “Never Lost” that showcases the power of community and the comfort a human face can bring, even if it’s just on a screen. Since brands do have power, they must use it to make people feel safe, connected, and secure.

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