During times of crisis, consumers look to brands to provide leadership. It’s not enough to provide great products, great prices, and great service. Consumers are looking to brands to have a social conscience, as well. The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. Consumers see companies as having the responsibility to do more than make money. They see them as having the responsibility to actually help.

Engage for Good, a membership community of cause marketers, has collected a number of statistics specifically related to consumers’ attitudes toward and expectations of brands during the pandemic. Consider the lessons found in the following data:

  1. Consumers do want to hear from brands, even now.
  • 43% of survey respondents said it’s reassuring to hear from brands they know and trust (4A’s).
  • 40% want to hear what brands are doing in response to the pandemic (4A’s).
  • 71% feel better about companies that publicly announce what they’re doing (Porter-Novelli).

Don’t be afraid to communicate with your customers. In fact, it makes customers feel some level of normal. But do it with sensitivity and with the larger situation in mind.

  1. Consumers want brands to give back.

This is the sensitivity part. Don’t make it all about making money. Consumers see brands as having a responsibility bigger than themselves.

  • 68% of respondents said they want brands to donate to programs that provide direct support for medical workers. (SheerID)
  • 67% of respondents want brands to donate to people who have lost wages. (SheerID)
  • One-third of respondents feel that marketers should only advertise if they’ve taken direct action to help others. (The Harris Poll)
  1. Consumers punish brands that don’t give back.

When there is a choice between brands that give back and brands that don’t, consumers favor those that do. Especially larger brands seen as having the financial resources to help others. Consumers don’t like it when brands appear to be focused only on their own profits when they could be using their financial resources to help those in need.

  • 81% of consumers say trust in a brand to do what’s right is a deal-breaker or deciding factor in their brand buying decision. (Edelman)
  • 33% said they have convinced other people to stop using a brand that they felt was not acting appropriately in response to the pandemic. (Edelman)
  • 22% of Gen Z respondents have stopped purchasing a brand because it hasn’t taken enough action to help in the midst of this crisis or has acted in a way they don’t like. (DoSomething.org)

Consumers are not looking for brands to have a short-term perspective. They expect brands to maintain their social commitments even after the pandemic is over. Three-quarters (75%) say they will remember which companies stepped up to provide coronavirus support, and 63% expect companies to continue efforts around social and environmental issues (Porter-Novelli).

Social conscience has always been important to consumers, but never more than during a crisis. Are you encouraging your customers to “do good” during the pandemic? Is your own company doing good, too? How are you communicating those efforts? Not only do your efforts matter, but so does your effectiveness in communicating them.