Post-COVID: 3 ways to build emotional connections with consumers

Posted on May 6, 2021

Updated on March 13, 2023

3 min read time

COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns, experienced to varying degrees around most of the world, saw brands shifting budget from in-person events and OOH to optimizing e-commerce platforms and products fit for working from home.  


As we brace ourselves in parts of the world to enter back into the “new normal”, consumer habits and needs across the globe have shifted. For brands navigating this seismic, cultural change; authenticity, relatability and empathy will be the key to maintaining and strengthening relationships with people. 


Since January, Connection, Empathy and Integrity – three of the 16 Drivers that determine the strength of a brand’s relationship with people - have risen up the ranks of importance on our Brand Management platform. More so than ever, people are looking for brands to behave in a way they can relate to, to understand the changes in their needs and wants, and to be trustworthy and purpose-driven.


For brands in a post-COVID environment, this means focusing your marketing activity - from Communications to NPD launches, and from new Partnerships to new Distribution channels, on three Drivers in particular:

  • Connection: This Driver is all about how a brand behaves and whether your consumers can relate to this. This is less about your innate proposition and much more influenceable by your brand’s responses and actions. Think about what your target market is motivated by, and what are your brand’s behaviors around these?
  • Empathy: This Driver is about how well people feel your brand understands their wants and needs. Being empathetic means you are perceptive to what your customers are saying, why they are saying it, and anticipate their demandsIt’s about making your customers feel so innately understood that you know what they want before they do. Take Spotify for example, who through personalization anticipated the needs of a music-loving, time poor audience to a tee, and produced digestible, weekly music recommendations  to engage and delight customers.
  • Integrity: How much your brand is seen as doing the right thing. Your brand’s Integrity needs to spring from your brand’s core ethos. It must be unwavering and authentically true to that. Any brand with high levels of Integrity will be seen to have a real purpose and voice.

Below are some examples of brands doing these Drivers well as we enter the 'new normal':

1. Connection | Heineken


Ever the high-flyers of quality adverts, Heineken once again wins over audiences with a perfectly timed, heartwarming campaign. As far as messaging goes, it’s spot on. It’s a brilliant portrayal of a brand understanding what people want and need right now, social resurrection and a return to nightlife. At a time where Covid fatigue is far beyond its threshold, this personable and real look at life is a nice touch. Vera Lynn’s classic wartime song ‘We’ll Meet Again’ only strengthening its emotive impact. 


Give people a reason to use you beyond the rational, product-led reasons to believe. When looking at what this benefit should be, explore how people feel when using your product, and express it in a way that is memorable and emotional to boost your brand's relatability.

2. Integrity | UK Retailer Tesco


Lockdown BlogTesco


Now more than ever, consumers are holding brands accountable for the environmental and social impact they have on their surroundings. People want to build relationships with brands that walk the walk as well as talk to the talk. 


Tesco telling shoppers to go to the pub instead of their stores to support their local watering holes, is textbook Integrity. Compassion for others - business and communities alike - is high on people's agenda as economic hardship looms. Building awareness of your brand’s moral compass, like Brewdog did recently in their support of micro-breweries, is a sure-fire way of boosting your brand’s Integrity and strengthening your relationships with customers. 


3. Empathy | Kate Hudson's FABLETICS

Lockdown BlogFabletics Fit


Brands need to be in tune and empathetic to their end users, ensuring that the customer experience across all touch points feels custom to their specific needs. Fabletics have launched an at-home fitness app, Fabletics FIT, offering on-demand workouts alongside meditation, yoga and dance, to accommodate the growing demand for health and wellness from home. It’s timely, lifestyle-focused, and taps into the changing fitness and wellness routines of their target audience.


To learn more about the 16 Drivers of Relationships between people and brands, and about the specific Marketing Actions you can take to guarantee sure-fire growth for your brand, head to our definitive guide How to build a brand people fall in love with.

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