Covid-19 has shaken our society, economy and entire way of life. It has distinctly illustrated what matters, our basic needs becoming increasingly important as ongoing restrictions impact our ability to live the life we knew a few months ago.
Our Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Brand Trust in 2020 shows just how critical it is for brands to play a vital part during this pandemic. To be able to trust a brand, 85 percent of respondents want that brand to solve their personal problems; similarly, 80 percent of people feel it is important for a brand to help solve society’s problems. This is demonstrated in purchasing patterns too, with 44 percent recently using a new brand because of the innovative or compassionate way they have responded to the outbreak, a seven-point increase since April. Brands are judged and bought depending on how supportive they have been. People don’t want a brand to sell to them; they want a brand to offer a solution to help make sense of our current normal.
In these times of acute stress, where supply chains are challenged and our movement restricted, our focus has returned to fundamentals—our loyalty and respect given to brands who support us. Seventy percent of people say trusting a brand is more important today than in the past. Indeed, a substantial 64 percent say that how well a brand responds to the pandemic will have a huge impact on their likelihood to buy the brand in the future. This is particularly salient for those aged 18 to 34, where 77 percent of respondents value trust more highly than they ever have.
So, solving big and small problems for the individual and society is what matters most for brands today. We love the brands which help us live our best lives in our current ‘normal.’ And some brands have absolutely stepped up—The Super Solver Brands. Their goods and services are accessible—not only do they turn up on our doorstep, but they also have stock or collateral and content that can satisfy our home-orientated demand. They are affordable, their value is their contribution to solvability in life, rather than monetary definition alone, delivering (literally) with integrity. And they help us become self–sufficient because we have shifted from a society that relies on outside services to a society where we serve ourselves. The purpose of brands moves from ‘nice to have’ to a ‘need to have.’ We found in our 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Spring Update: Trust and the Covid-19 Pandemic that 89 percent of people want brands to shift money and resources to producing products that help people meet pandemic-related challenges.
As online traffic mounts, the frustration to secure a regular supermarket delivery slot is overcome by the new Sainsbury’s Chop Chop app and Waitrose Rapid, offering delivery within hours: our new Super Solvers.
On a bigger scale, Jamie Oliver is the epitome of a Super Solver Brand. His brilliant “Keep Cooking and Carry On,” a 20-episode TV show produced in only a few weeks, uses his brand power and influence to give people tangible solutions to put food on the table and support local food providers. He gave everyone permission to throw out the rule book and cope. I asked him what inspired him to create the program so early in lockdown. “As I felt the Covid-19 cloud of uncertainty looming fast,” he told me, “I could see so much control being taken away from the public. I wanted to arm them with helpful tips, swap-outs and information to offer them some control.”
It didn’t take long to see the impact. “The feedback from the public was immediate and very powerful,” Oliver told me. There was “gratitude to having a familiar face busking mealtimes like they had to, with random ingredients, using food to lift everyone’s spirits. Now, more than ever, I know the power of food.”
Joe Wicks had families all over the world exercising at home together with almost 70 million views during lockdown, giving structure to their day and lifestyle support in such a magnanimous way.
Super Solver Brands can be large or small—their impact is what raises their status. The London-based community hall singing teacher who now performs on Instagram Live daily at 10:00 am has increased her audience from 30 families to over 10,000 and growing. The Kent-based Copper Rivet Distillery have made 13,000 liters of alcohol-based hand sanitizer for emergency services. In the UK, Smiths Group Plc has ramped up the manufacture of its own medical ventilators, which are in short supply, and has made the intellectual property to produce them available to other companies; the government has asked engine maker Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc and McLaren Automotive to help build them. Alibaba delivered 100 million food packages a day to distribution points in China, while the World Central Kitchen did the same in the U.S., providing 250,000 fresh meals daily for The Next-Door websites connecting communities and neighbors who have previously never leaned on each other.
Our day-to-day life is smaller, while the world is facing the realities of bigger problems. Where brands bring solutions and are accessible, valuable and drive self-sufficiency, we will trust them, buy them and be loyal to them. Super Solver status is what all brands should be striving for.
Jackie Cooper is senior advisor, Edelman, and non executive director, Jamie Oliver Group