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Covid-19 - Which media channels to use to connect with consumers


07 May 2020

Location: South Africa


At a time of global shift, it is imperative for brands to remain connected to their consumers. Communicating actively during turbulent times gives consumers the peace of mind that they can still rely on their trusted brands. As people seek stability and reliability in an unfamiliar world, brands are perfectly positioned to deliver on this, and should take every opportunity to do so.Borderless Access conducted a survey across nine countries and over 4,700 respondents, to understand consumer concerns and expectations of brands during Covid-19. Today we explore media channel usage and which channels brands can leverage to support their consumers in their changing world.

The heritage of traditional media instills trust

Much as the media industry is changing with the times, good old-fashioned television is still seen as the most stable and trusted source of information. Seventy-four percent of people globally turn to television as their main media source to find out more about the virus, its implications, and other news. This is obviously driven by older rather than younger adults, with one in four non-millennials preferring television.

Covid-19 - Which media channels to use to connect with consumers
Accessibility of digital media drives its growth

It is no secret that digital media continues to grow in prevalence world-wide. It was doing so before Covid-19, and received a substantial boost as the virus curtailed physical media distribution. Accessibility obviously plays an enormous role in enabling consumers to rely on digital media. In South Africa, the past few years have seen exponential increases in coverage in the form of both fibre and 3G, presenting a vastly different opportunity for digital media than would have been the case had the virus occurred a decade ago.

Almost two thirds of global consumers are relying on online searches as a major source of virus-related information, and the same number are turning to social media for this purpose. Both of these sources are, not surprisingly, driven more by millennials than any other adult age group.

Governments and other leaders have cautioned against reliance on social media, encouraging citizens not to believe or spread misinformation via such channels. However, when used for ‘social’ purposes as its name suggests, social media has more than risen to the occasion, powerfully connecting communities, enabling art and culture to prevail, and forging ways for family and friends to stay together while apart.



Print channels bear the brunt of lockdown’s effects

Websites, YouTube and newspapers are used to a limited extent as a source of news. Many of the countries in the survey have governmental websites dedicated to monitoring the spread of Covid-19 infections. This will have boosted this number, as citizens turn to these sites to get the latest national stats.

YouTube is not a major source of information and neither are newspapers. This survey took place at different points of the nine countries’ lockdown stages, meaning that newspaper printing and distribution occurred to a limited extent across the relevant countries.

As we have sadly witnessed recently in South Africa, print magazines are reaching their end of life, with only 4% of people turning to these as a source of information.

TV and social media also first choice for entertainment

When it comes to entertainment, people are also preferring TV and social media over other options. Nearly half are spending three hours or more watching TV for entertainment purposes, and a whopping 39% are spending more than three hours a day on social media to keep themselves busy.

Paid-for digital content (known in South Africa as video on demand) is watched must less than traditional TV, although there are 21% of people who spend more than three hours a day watching this form of entertainment.

Covid-19 - Which media channels to use to connect with consumers

Instil a sense of reliability and stability

To be foremost in the consumer mind it therefore seems clear that television and social media are the strongest channels for communication during this time. While news is particularly sought-after during the pandemic, entertainment is always in demand.

When communicating with consumers in this new world, ensure that communication is relevant and instills a sense of trust, telling them that they can rely on your brand. Incorporating appropriate forms of entertainment works well for many brands but only use this if it supports your brand image. Above all, keep your voice active and constant, embodying a sense of stability in a changing world.

Borderless Access conducts digital online research across the world, enabling brands to track key consumer insights and maintain competitive advantage, no matter the external conditions.

Please contact us to find out more.