The latest results from Empathy’s Brand Index illustrates the value the nation places on those brands visibly supporting us during the Covid-19 crisis, writes Robert Clarke.
In times of crisis, we naturally tend to re-evaluate our priorities and values in life. By the same token, we also tend to reappraise our perception of brands by the values they demonstrate through their actions or inactions in times of crisis.
This reappraisal of brands has never been more evident than over the past few weeks where the perception of most brands has shifted considerably – some positively and some not so positively!
Brands Supporting the Nation
We’re continuously tracking how people feel about the performance of brands and organisations for our Empathy Brand Index. However, recently we wanted to understand which brands and organisations the Nation perceive to be doing the most to support us during this Covid-19 Crisis, and which brands have gone up or down in our estimations.
To do so, we conducted research amongst N=1,000 adults online with a nationally representative sample of aged 18+, the fieldwork for which ran from 3rd – 7th April.
For this edition of our Brand Index we devised brand positionings through a weighted combination of brand performance on three key metrics. How visible the respective brands have been, how well they have supported people personally and perhaps more importantly, how well they have supported the Nation during this time of crisis. Having analysed the performance of 50 brands and organisations, we’ve compiled the results into a Covid-19 Edition.
Unsurprisingly, the HSE, Gardaí and An Post top the Brand Index for the phenomenal role they have played to date, and no doubt will continue to play in supporting the Nation during this crisis. The response to the Covid-19 crisis from the HSE has clearly positioned them as the most impactful brand/organisation currently operating in Ireland, underpinned by a very visible presence and strong endorsement in relation to the level of personal and National support they are delivering on a daily basis. Their performance is further evidenced by a significant positive increase (+76%) in the opinion of the HSE across the population, which reinforces the heroic performance of all staff at the HSE.
An Garda Siochana and An Post are in second and third place respectively in the Empathy Brand Index, with their visibility and the level of support they are delivering, to the fore. An Garda Síochána perform marginally better in relation to their visibility during the crisis to date, which we would expect to see increase over the coming weekend. Their visibility is complimented with strong endorsement for their performance at a National level, where they are slightly more likely to be endorsed than for their impact on people at a personal level.
An Post are more consistent in their performance, with their performance in relation to personal support more closely aligned to their endorsement for the support they are delivering at a National level, highlighting how appreciated they are for the continuation of their excellent service and brilliant initiatives like the free postcards for all and their check-in service for vulnerable households.
Fine Gael take fourth place in the Brand Index for their performance during this crisis. Election 2020 results seem like a distant memory at this stage and they are the political party with all the momentum, with positive sentiment towards them clearly evident. The performance of the key party figures has not gone unnoticed, with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar deemed to be the best performing politician currently, just ahead of his Fine Gael colleagues, Minister for Health; Simon Harris and Tánaiste; Simon Coveney.
The Role of Supermarkets
The remaining places within the Top 10 are all taken by retailers; thus, underlining their importance for all of us at this time. The public are highly appreciative and fully recognise their tireless efforts to keep the shelves stocked and checkouts moving in the most challenging of environments.
In terms of ranking, Tesco are leading the way, ranking highest of all retailers in relation to their visibility, the level of personal support and national support they are offering. Their footprint and their extensive online shopping offering has placed them close to the hearts of many. Particularly, the compassion they are showing by asking shoppers to “Think Before They Click” appears to be resonating. Lidl also perform extremely strongly in this most recent edition of the Empathy Brand Index, ranking second of all retailers and 6th overall, their performance is a combination of high levels of visibility and a strong performance in relation to the level of National support they are delivering.
The Positive Impact on Brand Opinion
The strong response to the Covid-19 crisis by all the brands in the Top 10 has also resulted in a significant positive increase in the opinion of each brand amongst the population. However, the degree to which this increase in positive opinion manifests does vary across the brands in the Top 10. Again, The HSE perform best, recording an increase in brand opinion amongst 76% of adults. This is particularly impressive given how polarising the HSE can be for many during more “normal” times.
From a retailer viewpoint, SuperValu record the highest level of improvement in brand opinion recorded due to their performance during the Covid-19 crisis (58% increase), with Dunnes Stores recording an increase in brand perception amongst 39% of adults in comparison. SuperValu are most likely being positively viewed as a result of their collaboration and partnership with the GAA to ensure the elderly and the most vulnerable members of the community can receive their groceries without having to leave their home.
Outside of the Top 10, The Defence Forces, The GAA and Aer Lingus all record a positive increase in the opinion of their brand as a result of their performance during the crisis – with the work of the latter in delivering the precious cargo of PPE from China not going unnoticed by the Nation either, they rank 12th in the Brand Index overall, eight places ahead of Ryanair (who rank 20th) .
Robert Clarke is Research Director with Empathy