Brands need to capitalise on the increased social media activity by consumers to promote purchasing and build shopper loyalty in a time of significantly dampened demand for non-essential goods, according to data analytics firm GlobalData, which found 43.7 per cent of consumers globally are spending more time on social media due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Emily Salter, retail analyst at the company, comments: “Social media will play an even more important role in marketing post-COVID-19, as many retailers are slashing marketing budgets to preserve cash to cope with the crisis, especially those that previously relied on traditional forms of marketing such as television and billboard adverts. Social media is a far cheaper method, especially if brands can leverage user-generated content and rely less on sponsored posts and collaborations.”

However, retailers need to approach social media with sensitivity and strike the right balance with the number of posts and messaging.

Though retailers need to convince shoppers to choose their products over others available, they should ensure that content is not too heavily skewed towards purchase-focused posts as they will have a significant number of followers who do not feel financially stable enough to buy non-essential items as unemployment rates have soared globally, the UK-based company said in a press release.

Salter, continues: “Retailers need to focus on aspects beyond products: elements of their brand identity that resonate with shoppers, the positive actions they have taken during the crisis, and building engagement to foster a sense of community, though this may prove easier for smaller independent brands. These are all elements that shoppers will be able to relate to whether they are in a position to purchase items or not, building brand loyalty and influencing shoppers’ choices in the long term.”

The statistics was derived from Global Data’s weekly COVID-19 tracker across 11 countries, with a sample of 500 respondents per country, conducted between 12 and 17 May.