3 ways to reach customers and build authentic connections right now

August 14, 2020 | By Brendan Flaherty, Content specialist

Over the last few months, we’ve seen many brands serve as welcome pillars of support for their customers. These brands know the importance of forging long-term relationships, by understanding where their customers are now, providing comfort and connection, and earning trust through communication.

Reach customers where they are

All over, dining rooms have become makeshift home offices. Living rooms have morphed into classrooms, and apartment kitchens have transformed into bakeries. In early June, in fact, dough blenders topped the kitchen category’s list of US Movers & Shakers1 — the biggest daily gainers in Amazon sales rank. In short, people are doing a lot more at home — shopping, streaming content, and yes, cooking.

We’ve been fortunate to have opportunities to work with brands, as they look for unique ways to connect with customers and meet them where they are. In April, for example, Kellogg’s and 14 celebrity chefs collaborated with Amazon Live to feed an audience of foodies with relevant content for a good cause. “At Home Cooking,” a 10-hour cook-a-thon to support Feeding America, starred Padma Lakshmi, Emeril Lagasse, and Rocco DiSpirito, to name a few. The chefs streamed live from their kitchens, cooked meals with ingredients commonly found in the pantry, and answered viewers’ questions. The live chat allowed viewers to interact with the hosts, and each other. They asked ‘how to’ questions, sought general cooking advice from the chefs, and offered their recommendations and ideas. The shared experience allowed viewers to stream comforting content, while connecting with one another.

Adapt to provide comfort and connection

Households are streaming more OTT (over-the-top) or streaming TV content than ever before. In April, total households streaming via Connected TVs increased 29%, compared to the same time last year, while total households streaming via boxes/sticks increased 43%. In addition, the total OTT hours streamed by Connected TVs increased 24%, while total OTT hours streamed by Boxes/Sticks increased 16%.2

As families spend more time at home together, we’re seeing brands quickly adapt to find ways to bring their customers comfort and connection. A movie studio, for example, pivoted their planned theatrical release strategy to provide customers with a great “movie-going” experience in the comfort of their own homes. They allowed audiences to enjoy the family-friendly film as originally scheduled by releasing it directly to Prime Video Cinema and other streaming services, on the same day it would’ve premiered in theaters. In addition to promoting the straight-to-digital release, the teams found opportunities to create a deeper alignment between the film and associated merchandise by coordinating advertising efforts between the film and licensed consumer products. By adapting its strategy, the studio was able to connect and communicate with customers in new and memorable ways.

Earn trust through communication

To develop long-term relationships and build trust, communication is key. Your customers want to hear from you. According to a March survey conducted by Edelman, 83% of global respondents said they want compassionate connection, including brand messaging that communicates empathy and support with the struggles they face.3

Further, 65% of survey respondents said that a brand’s response in the crisis will have a huge impact on their likelihood of purchasing it in the future, and 60% said that they are turning to brands that they absolutely can trust.3

Empathy, connection, and trust are paramount for today’s shoppers who are discovering and engaging with brands both off-line and online, via more touchpoints than ever before. So, however you enable discovery and action, if you meet customers where they are, provide welcome comfort and connection, and earn trust when you’re needed the most, your brand may serve as a pillar of support for your customers, now and always.

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1Amazon.com Movers and Shakers, kitchen category, as of 6/4/2020
2"Understanding Media Consumption During the COVID-19 Pandemic." Comscore, April 2020. Based on direct TV measurement of 30M+ households
3Richard Edelman, “Trust Barometer Special Report,” Edelman, last modified March 30, 2020