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The Empathy Imperative: Consumer Perceptions On Brand Empathy Through a Pandemic

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Empathy is integral to how PepsiCo Beverages North America approaches marketing, our employees, and the business. In the days prior to the COVID-19 lockdown in the U.S., we embarked on consumer research on empathy. Like everyone, we soon entered an entirely new world, and decided to re-run the survey to understand how consumer perceptions of empathy and the role brands play have evolved through the pandemic. We found that Americans almost universally think empathy is important, but just half feel it describes our nation today. As a society, we have made progress toward closing the empathy gap, as Americans feel the country is more empathetic now. But there is more work to be done, and there is a clear role for brands to play. In this environment, it is just as easy for brands to get it right or wrong, and either way will leave a deep and lasting impression on consumers. The following survey uncovers the actions consumers now expect from brands, and the new brand empathy imperative moving forward.

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The Empathy Imperative: Consumer Perceptions On Brand Empathy Through a Pandemic

  1. 1. EMPATHYSURVEY FINDINGSEMPATHYSURVEY FINDINGS The Empathy Imperative: Consumer Perceptions On Brand Empathy Through a Pandemic MAY 2020
  2. 2. EMPATHYSURVEY FINDINGS PepsiCo Beverages North America ran a longitudinalstudy through Ipsos among more than 5,000 Americans (16+) — 3,118 from March 10-13, 2020 and 2,084 from May 1-5, 2020 — on the evolutionof consumer perceptionsof empathy and the role brands play. Any reference to pre- COVID-19 refers to the March 10-13 time period before shelter in place orders were initiated throughoutthe U.S. During COVID-19 refers to the May 1-5 timeframe while many Americans continuedto abide by shelter in place orders. Methodology Empathy is integral to how PepsiCo Beverages North America approaches marketing, our employees, and the business. In the days prior to the COVID-19 lockdown in the U.S., we embarked on consumer research on empathy. Like everyone, we soon entered an entirely new world, and decided to re-run the survey to understand how consumer perceptions of empathy and the role brands play have evolved through the pandemic. We found that Americansalmostuniversally think empathy is important,but justhalf feel it describesour nationtoday.As a society, we have made progress toward closingthe empathy gap,as Americans feel the country is more empathetic now. But there is more work to be done, and there is a clear role for brands to play. In this environment, it is just as easy for brands to get it right or wrong, and either way will leave a deep and lasting impression on consumers. The following survey uncovers the actions consumers now expect from brands, and the new brand empathy imperative moving forward. Findings
  3. 3. EMPATHYSURVEY FINDINGS Empathy is more important than ever. Americans almost universally (94%) say empathy is important in today’s society. In fact, nearly four in five (79%) believe it has become even more importantin light of the COVID-19pandemic.
  4. 4. EMPATHYSURVEY FINDINGS While an empathy gap exists, we are making progress in closing it. During the COVID-19 pandemic, more Americans describe the nation as empathetic, but there is still a gap to fill. Prior to COVID-19, just 43% of Americans described our society as empathetic. But more Americansthink our society is empathetic now,with that description jumping 7 points to 50%. PRE-COVID-19 DURING COVID-19 50% 43%
  5. 5. EMPATHYSURVEY FINDINGS To consumers, the top five ways brands can show empathy is by… Treating them like a human being Treating them with respect Acknowledging when they’re wrong Caring about themListening to them 52% 43% 37% 50% 41%
  6. 6. EMPATHYSURVEY FINDINGS Consumer expectations of empathy during the pandemic extend to marketing and advertising as well. 56% of Americans say changing brand communications to focus directly on addressing the crisis shows empathy. In this pandemic, Americans prefer tones of support, hope and comfort, rather than overly emotive, serious or humorous tones. 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 62% 57% 55% 53% 24% Supportive Hopeful Comforting Empathetic Serious Emotional 19% 14% AmusingHumorous 19%
  7. 7. EMPATHYSURVEY FINDINGS Americans say the most important ways brands can show empathy in their response is by… However, brands can’t just say they’re empathetic, they need to show it. The most valued responses to COVID-19 focus on employees & community first. Manufacturing essential resources Providing salary & sick leave support to employees Helping people give back to those in need Providing transparency on how companies are keeping employees safe Helping local businesses that are struggling as a result of the crisis 93% 91% 90% 91% 90%
  8. 8. EMPATHYSURVEY FINDINGS There also remains a clear role for brands to play in helping lift spirits in these difficult times. say it’s important that brands lift people’s spirits during this time say it’s important that brands provide a moment of escapism from it all say it’s important that brands provide entertainment for people during stay-at-home orders 86% 74% 73%
  9. 9. EMPATHYSURVEY FINDINGS Empathy will remain the brand mandate from this point forward. 86% of Americans agree that if brands want to create greater loyalty, it’s critical they show greater empathy. 2 in 3 (68%) say that how brandsrespond duringthe pandemic willimpacthow they engage with them in the future
  10. 10. EMPATHYSURVEY FINDINGS For the complete survey results, visit Ipsos. MediaContact Kristen Mueller Kristen.Mueller@pepsico.com EMPATHYSURVEY FINDINGS MAY 2020

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