Consumers Call the Shots in Post-COVID Economy

Carol Feigenbaum |
 03/04/22 |
5 min read

Consumers Call the Shots in Post-COVID Economy

Consumers have always been the most important ingredient in any brand’s marketing mix, but in our post-COVID economy, consumers have recognized this power – and they’re wielding it. We see consumers calling the shots in our new predominantly digital landscape, regardless of vertical. And understanding how this impacts everything across the enterprise is important, as brands work to make the best data-informed decisions.

With many businesses failing to meet consumer expectations, the real question is – why? With consumers freely sharing their needs online, how are brands missing these opportunities? We’ll explore their overarching expectations, and ways brands can dig into the details to revamp offerings in ways that win market share.

covid economy infographic

Post-COVID Consumers’ Overarching Expectations

As detailed in the infographic above, consumers share a host of concerns about their day-to-day lives. Making assumptions about what they want, need, love or hate is dangerous. And this applies to both B2B and B2C operations, particularly as we’ve seen an uptick in new small business creation and solopreneurs seeking business funding.

We also see companies unable to find workers, citing a labor shortage that is largely mischaracterized as such:

Workers, consumers and new business owners driving the post-COVID economy have overarching expectations that are peppered with worry over inflation, wages, childcare and time, as they struggle to find more of it in our digitally transformed, always on, world.

Digging Into the Consumer & Market Intelligence Details

But, once we understand their expectations, which are broad by any estimation, how do we turn this into actionable insight?

First, we need to dig deeper into the analytics to see what is driving certain emotions, specifically. Odds are, AI-powered consumer and market intelligence will tell us everything we need to know to move forward. We just need to know where to look.

Comparing 2020 COVID economy conversations to those happening in 2021, we see the negative mentions and substandard sentiment growing, registering at -61% on a scale from -100 to 100. And this is with less than half the mentions of last year; and this is not a good sign.


But where is the conversation happening online? This is important because it will show us where to message out for maximum impact, once we decide what that messaging should be. When trying to find your audience, there’s no sense in reinventing the wheel, so focusing on sites already primed for engagement makes sense:


Knowing the conversation is trending negatively and where it’s happening (from above), we can pivot our investigation to see who is talking specifically – and what they’re saying.

From the news side of things (and for any source listed above), we can isolate those news posts and filter by sentiment. This allows us to quickly surface not only where these media hits are happening, but also which pieces are resonating with readers. We know these sites and reporters are eliciting strong emotions, and we’ll want to keep close watch moving forward.


And then, adding context to what we discovered above, we can look to social web conversation to help identify which pain points to start with first, as there are quite a few. We’ll also want to identify any brightside observations to potentially amplify and turn a troubled conversation around. It’s Crisis Management 101, really.

For example, we can see a theme around incremental improvement and implied hope (in green) offering an avenue to explore and potentially work into messaging. It’s small part of the conversation, but one that a savvy brand could use to redirect a narrative:


The example above is a specific snapshot of a generalized problem, and one that any brand can dial in further to focus exclusively on a given category. A fashion audience will have a set of specific interests, needs and concerns that are distinct from a finance audience, for example. And understanding those specifications, down to a granular level, allows brands to create personalized experiences, at scale – that resonate. And yes, this needs to happen more often, not less, in our post-COVID economy.

Brands Winning Market Share with Social Listening

Digging into the details of an analysis is worthwhile for any brand. It often leads to innovative ways to revamp offerings and win market share. But it’s also essential for larger brands – maybe more so, as maintaining market share is equally important. And this needs to happen in real-time with robust social media listening capabilities.

As Evan Escobedo, Global Lead for Listening, Analytics, & Insight at Western Union recently shared with us at a NetBase Quid LIVE event, they keep tabs on consumer friction points via social media listening. They have to do this, as Western Union receives upwards of 60,000 mentions every month and they must quickly filter out noise to reveal the consumer-driven data requiring immediate action. Imagine handling that volume otherwise? They’re doing extremely well in this post-COVID economy with this data-driven approach.

He has also used social media monitoring in line with our example above – to identify media outlets that were best suited to their goals. His team collected data to determine the value of each, quantifying what a mention is worth in a particular platform or publication using a unique algorithm they developed to score those sources. Check out the presentation to learn more!

And then we had another NetBase Quid LIVE example offered by Shelina Taki, Senior Director of Strategic Planning and Insights at PMG. This takes the amplification of positive associations approach, by capitalizing on the COVID era nostalgia trend.

Nostalgia has proven itself to be a valuable “in” for businesses seeking to connect with consumers in our increasingly isolated and digitally detached world. Taki showed how marketers can penetrate the modern human brain – which is inundated with information (progressing from seeing 500 images per day in the 1970’s to between 4,000 and 10,000 ads in the 2020’s) – through nostalgia.

Based on social listening work done by her team at PMG, Taki explained that the pandemic evoked a longing for simpler times, or what she terms “the post digital world.” And she found these stats to support her analysis:

  • Over 13 million mentions related to nostalgia over the past 12 months – translating to over 2.2 trillion potential impressions for brands that are engaging with the trend.
  • People under 34 years are talking about nostalgia the most.
  • Conversations are generally 90’s-themed.

This means Gen X era people, and those who love that time in general, are eagerly searching for brands’ strategically positioned nostalgia-themed offerings. At least, that’s the insight as of this writing – it could already be changing. Wouldn’t it be great to know for sure? Reach out for a demo and we’ll show you the many, many ways to derive actionable intel from continuous consumer and market intelligence!

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