Our last post addresses one of the major concerns people are feeling right now amidst the pandemic. They are fragile. Now, more than ever, business strategists, operations leaders, and communicators need to work together to to understand the risk perceptions that are shaping their customers’ behaviors, so that they can act upon them in the appropriate and timely manner. This is vital to business sustainability during these difficult times. We’re going to dive into another top consumer risk perception, why this matters for your business and what you can do about it.
Note: This is the second of a three-part blog series. As the pandemic dramatically disrupts business, we explored consumer perceptions and why that matters to your business. Consumer intelligence can quickly and accurately inform how to communicate and adopt strategies for successful re-openings.
Using evolve24’s neuroscience-based algorithms, we scanned millions of publicly available conversations to uncover the underlying consumer concerns about the pandemic. In our analysis, we found three emotional drivers prominent in the data: fragility, lack of control, and permanency. Let’s dive into control.
People feel they have little control.
When consumers feel like they have little control over a situation, they perceive the risk to be higher than if they can control the outcome. This explains why some people have no issue driving a car, but are afraid of flying in an airplane – even though the actual risk is much lower. It also explains the phenomenon of panic buying. Consumers can exercise their control by stocking up on items they deem essential. It makes them feel better about the situation.
Government mandates, business lockdowns and health protocols all contribute to a lack of control consumers are feeling. However, it actually is the behavior of others that causes people to feel more out of control than ever before:
“Coronavirus isn’t like anything in life. If I drive 100 miles round trip to work, it’s a risk I take. I control it to a greater degree, monitor speed, driving conditions, other drivers’ behavior. I have NO control over whether someone who comes too close to me has CV.”– Twitter.com
Why this matters.
Consumers who feel a lack of control will be less likely to re-enter into situations where they feel exposed. This could include attending public events, going to restaurants or shopping in stores.
To attract consumers in this context, it will be vital for businesses to address this risk perception from both an operational and communications perspective. You may want to consider how you can help your customers feel more in control of their situation as your business reopens.
For example, provide customers with tangible ways to reduce their own exposure, and more importantly, show them that there are protocols and controls in place to protect them from others who may ignore health protocols. It will be equally important that businesses address this risk in their communications by showing their customers that they understand how they feel and how they are addressing their concern.
This is particularly important for communicators. As you consider language, don’t be afraid to use words like control or imagery that connotes consumer power. This will lower your audience’s perception of risk, their stress levels and can create trust in your business.
In our next blog post we will discuss another risk perception that consumers are feeling: permanency. Until next time, know that something as critical as customer behaviors cannot be changed if they are not measured, and that these perceptions are in flux.