As the UK gradually eases lockdown restrictions, consumers most want to hear from brands about how they are protecting employee safety and jobs, according to new research.

The consumer survey conducted by PR agency Speed found that over a third (37%) wanted to see brands communicate measures they have taken to look after staff during the COVID-19 crisis, whether safety or job security. This was a significantly higher proportion than those wanting to know how their own safety was being protected when buying products or accessing services at just 21%.

One in ten (11%) were most concerned about being informed of any changes to the provision of products and services due to social distancing restrictions, and 9% prioritised information on how brands are supporting the national crisis effort through fundraising or other activities.

Conversely, just 5% of consumers respectively said they’d be most receptive to brand messages over value for money and pricing, and new product or service launches.

Commenting on the findings, Kelly Pepworth, Managing Director at Speed, said: “Consumers currently favour information on the way companies are protecting their employees over updates relating to their own personal safety, convenience and wallet.

“The research is further evidence of the importance of purpose-led marketing and communications and the need to put business values at the heart of any messaging. Consumers are increasingly evaluating brands not on what they say but what they do. There may be some challenging times ahead for brands and business, and the way they conduct themselves – leading with empathy and understanding and translating this in their communications – will be key to longer term brand loyalty.”

The findings came as Speed, part of The MISSION Group of marketing agencies, launched a dedicated online resource for brands, the Speed Support Centre, which provides guidance on a range of topics including brand positioning during a time of crisis, building customer relationships virtually and engaging remote teams.

Kelly added: “While scrutiny over brand communications has intensified, the rules of engagement remain the same – be empathetic, be human and be honest.  Among the most criticised brands throughout this crisis are those which have appeared insincere or opportunistic. Conversely, value-driven brands which have been open and transparent on the ‘why’ of their actions have, and will, come through the other side stronger with consumer support behind them.”

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