Sensitive issues

Brands have always had to navigate sensitive topics, but our new normal has amplified the challenges. With restrictions in place limiting, and likely changing, in-person interactions forever, brands must find ways to exist. Consumer and market intelligence offers a roadmap to guide them.

On Friday October 23, a tweet from the New York Times profiling those “Out of Work in America” showed the potential to reach 28 billion people. Consumers care very much about things they may not feel comfortable sharing, but they’re reading – and watching. And these posts are affecting their purchase decisions:

navigating sensitive topics 1

We’ll wade through some sensitive subjects using consumer and market intelligence to show why it’s important to:

  • Understand how issues are being reported in media
  • Understand consumers’ view of brands and their messaging
  • Monitor consumer sentiments as we continue to navigate COVID-19

Our new, touch averse society is likely to remain this way for years to come, as these stats indicate:

  • Experts agree that the longer the pandemic goes on, the more likely the adaptations we’ve made will follow us into the future.
  • There has been a significant rise in video calls, with 47.6% using Facetime.
  • Social media platforms grew by 10.9% in 2020 – signaling an acceptance from consumers that in-person interaction may be a while off.

Explore Brand Perception in the Media 

Finding your feet as a brand in a sea of everchanging consumer sentiment is a tough challenge, never mind the pandemic itself turning campaigns on their head. This is precisely why companies need consumer and market intelligence to understand how disruption impacts your business.

Keywords in news and blog posts offers companies a view of what’s happening beneath the surface. Extracting data around COVID-19 and stress factors that include job loss, mental health, returning to school and post-pandemic futures – we see concern lessening as the months wear on. The most significant lingering effect being an impact on mental health, highlighted below:


And as 70% of all communication is non-verbal, seeing friends and family has been a crucial mental health component. People have adapted with a corresponding rise in video calls, with 47.6% of adults in the U.S. using FaceTime alone.

Beyond visual connection is the physical, of course. And if there was ever a taboo “sense,” these days it would be precisely that – touch. So skincare brands that promote soft, supple skin have had to adapt, while keeping these sensitivities around “touch” in mind.

Working with Consumer Perception

Nivea recently ran an ad which recognized the human desire for physical contact, which could be deemed controversial in today’s landscape. But even though it included statistics on how touch affects us mentally and physically, it escaped reproach as its content is focused on a vulnerable population that requires touch – babies:nivea-human-touch-youtube

This acknowledgement of vulnerability is clever, and has resonated with its audience on YouTube over the past month, as it has been produced and shared in many languages. Below, we see Nivea’s #CareforHumanTouch campaign capturing lots of love on YouTube since its launch at the beginning of the month, earning an overwhelming amount of likes from its promotions.

navigating sensitive topics 2

This is an exceptional achievement for the brand, and a timely one – as social mood is trending positively, but hesitantly, when it comes to touch. Consumers have lots of hopes and anticipation around connecting with others again, and what’s more hopeful than a baby saved by the touch of its twin?


Brands Amplifying Hope

Experts say the longer the pandemic goes on, the more likely our new adaptations will stay in place. Brands able to work within these parameters and encourage hopeful thinking, as Nivea did here, will win in the end.

And it’s not enough to use market and consumer intelligence before you launch a campaign. Tracking brand sentiment and conversation over time shows what works, what doesn’t and allows you to pivot in real-time, as needed. Sentiment is the driving force behind purchases and overall brand health. During this altered new normal, consumers are feeling even more vulnerable and will align with brands that respect their needs.

Coca-Cola knows this first hand. They met this frustration head on when promoting George the Poet to represent the consumer voice on the exhausting impacts of COVID-19. Coca-Cola, like Nivea, took the negative sentiment they found and turned it on its head with an ad that openly recognized the challenges of pandemic living, while offering hope.

Locating consumer concerns and sentiment in a post-pandemic world using social listening is crucial when trying to reach an audience plagued by social distancing. Consumer sentiment analysis must be central to any campaign effort.

If sentiment monitoring is not part of your social listening toolbox– it’s time to get in touch with your brand’s softer side. Reach out to get a feel for the consumer and market intelligence surrounding your brand, so you can design meaningful, impactful campaigns as well.

2021 the importance of social analytics for consumer insights

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