Megan Walker, Senior Media Strategist at The MediaShop, says the new ‘socially distanced’ way of working and being away from our colleagues can make us feel lonely. But on the flip side, history tells us that society can be socially cohesive in times of crisis.

By encouraging us to think less about our own interests and more about the interests of others, a shared sense of togetherness has been created. This in itself has led people to look past their differences and collectively respond to the challenges they face.

On a personal level, my own colleagues within the Cape Town office have been nothing short of amazing in showing their true colours. There have been countless examples of everyday care, which I have been privy to in the past months.

There were times where the team has had each other’s backs, such as when a person needed help with their workload, or to get advice or bounce an idea off someone, or just to lend an ear when someone needed to de-compress. The result of this is that we all feel bonded to each other more than ever before.

This aspect of demonstrating care is not just relevant in our one-on-one interactions or personal interactions, but it is also more important than ever for brands. Accenture Strategy’s Global Consumer Pulse Research revealed that consumers, across all generations, care about what retailers say and how they act. At this time of intense uncertainty, the key attributes that underpin trust in a brand are different than even a month ago. Building trust and loyalty in a time of crisis can make or break a brand. When asked what factors make consumers trust brands more, the top three responses focused on the well-being of customers, the well-being of employees, and not taking advantage of the crisis to maximise profits; in other words, care.

Organisations showing up for their employees is one of the top reasons that consumers trust any given brand. Recent data shows that during uncertainty, workers are looking to employers and managers to lead even more than they are looking to governments and other organisations for direction. 

And consumers are watching. A recent Qualtrics survey shows that 54% of them said they are concerned with how employers are treating their employees in this time of crisis. Better treatment fuels brand trust, with 48% indicating they trust brands more when they take care of their employees. The same holds true for genuine concern demonstrated (not just expressed) by a brand for its customers.

In the face of the Covid-19 crisis, brands must figure out how they can help, and what actions can be taken that are consistent with their values and abilities. Brands have an opportunity to strengthen the bonds of trust with consumers. If a person genuinely feels a sense of care and community from friends, family and colleagues that it strengthens our bonds and commitments to each other. Brands demonstrating genuine care will benefit from strengthened customer bonds and loyalty too. 

To borrow from the words of the British chancellor Rishi Sunak, I believe that those that rise to the occasion will be able ‘…to look back on this time and remember how, in the face of a generation-defining moment, we undertook a collective effort, and we stood together’.

Demonstrating care may be an important human and consumer insight that is more relevant than ever right now, but it will always be important, therefore let this shared sense of care be one of the new habits that continues long into the future.