Social distancing habits: What business leaders need to know

COVID-19 is an unprecedented global crisis that has developed with incredible speed and scale. Our society has changed dramatically, and business leaders across the globe need to move at extraordinary speed to make informed decisions to protect and support their employees, customers, suppliers, and broader stakeholders. It is imperative that businesses take the safest measures to stay healthy and learn how to operate in this "new normal." 

Leaders must prioritize. As we learned in the past few weeks, new realities can appear in a matter of minutes to determine how and where we interact with one another. It will require empathy, agility and resilience to move forward in this crisis.  

U.S. and global public health officials have all indicated the COVID-19 pandemic will get worse before it gets better. In order to move forward, business leaders must align their brands with shifting consumer behavior and media consumption trends.  


Consumer Behavior Changes Overnight  

We have already seen massive changes in consumer behavior. Media, content and time preferences are shifting. The spread of and response to COVID-19 has left our social and physical environments unstable. As a result, our behavioral patterns and rituals are not as established. This represents an opportunity for brands to provide support for consumers, as well as grow share of mind.  

We predict these changes will exist long after the peak pandemic crisis has subsided. For many companies, this will require rethinking product, service and business model altogether. It’s not too early to start innovation and new communication planning to be ready when the market rebounds.  

Not all trends are negative. There are some early trends that are favorable for certain categories. Purposeful messaging around community, support and customer-centric service is proving effective, and eCommerce and delivery services are experiencing accelerated growth due to an increase in online ordering.  


Seismic Shifts in TV Viewership  

Now is the time for leaders to be agile. Seldom have we seen such dramatic drops in pricing for TV programming with rising levels of TV viewership. Due to the lost programming attributed to live sporting events, the networks cannot deliver those audiences and, as a result, are busy finding content and filling ad inventory around that revised content.  

The marketplace is transforming rapidly, and we are seeing significant rate cuts. Through advanced machine learning, our tools are constantly examining these shifts in the market, adapting quickly to help our clients seize opportunities created due to the shifting media landscape.  


The challenges are fierce. However, opportunity lies in the face of adversity. Brands that find opportunities to continue serving customers can leverage TV in incredible ways to achieve their goals. They can anticipate and meet new customer needs and evolve their business to drive superior outcomes for their customers, employees, stakeholders, and broader society now and in the future.  

These are unstable times. The brands willing to engage with consumers in empathetic, agile and resilient ways in this “new normal” will resonate in the marketplace and be well-positioned for growth beyond the current crisis.