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What Brands Are Doing To Show Young Consumers They Care During COVID-19

Gen Z and Millennials are facing the crisis of their generations. Here are some of the ways that brands are stepping in to show their support, and make a difference during the crisis…

Young consumers have always expected brands to make a difference—and COVID-19 has made that expectation more pertinent than ever before. As Gen Z and Millennials face perhaps the greatest challenge of their generations, they’re increasingly in need of support, and paying close attention to the brands that are actively addressing the crisis. And brands need to take action. As young consumers’ lives are drastically altered by the virus, they will remember the companies that made a difference to them and to the efforts to combat the crisis.

Last week, we told you about some of the campaigns that had quickly launched to help young consumers cope with Coronavirus, from a livestreamed lunch from Chipotle to UHaul’s free storage for displaced students. But the last five days have brought a tremendous amount of change. YPulse’s early data shows that the number of 13-39-year-olds who say their lives have been affected by Coronavirus in some way has increased from 69% to 93% in just a week. The number who report that news of COVID-19 makes them anxious has increased from 34% to 49% in the same time.

Of course, the number of brands who have begun to clearly address Coronavirus with a wide variety social good efforts has also skyrocketed. Many fashion and beauty retailers are reallocating profit and repurposing its production to help stop the spread of the virus while tech companies like Google are offering up their services for free to employees and students working from home. Here are five of the biggest ways that brands are stepping up to show young consumers they care during this unprecedented time:

Encouraging Social Distancing

As reports continue to show that young people have a unique role to play mitigating the risk of COVID-19 by social distancing, government officials have called for mega-influencers to emphasize the seriousness of the virus to their young fanbase. Already, Kylie Jenner and Bella Hadid have posted messages on Instagram urging their followers to stay home—but it’s not just influencers and celebrities who are encouraging social distancing. Brands have begun to release campaigns telling young consumers that the best thing they can do right now is stay apart. Over the weekend, Nike shared social media posts with the message, “If you ever dreamed of playing for millions around the world, now is your chance. Play inside, play for the world.” Athletes like Michael Jordan and Cristiano Ronaldo spread the word, posting messages under the #playinside #playfortheworld hashtags. Coca-Cola put their social distancing message what was once one of the busiest places in the world: Times Square. Their new billboard reads, “Staying apart is the best way to stay united.” According to AdAge, the brand is also donating $13.5 million in grants to non-profits responding to the pandemic.


Manufacturing & Providing Needed Goods

With a global face mask and hand sanitizer shortage, brands are offering up their services—in many cases completely shifting their production to fill the serious needs the pandemic has created. Fashion designer Christian Siriano has assigned 10 of his seamstresses to make and produce a few thousand masks a week for hospital workers in New York, while Los Angeles Apparel founder Dev Charney assembled a team of over 450 people to manufacture masks and medical supplies for “any government agency.” Beauty companies like LVHM and L’Oreal are using their facilities to produce hydroalcoholic gel and hand sanitizer. Even alcohol brands and distilleries are getting in on the hand sanitizer production. While Tito’s Vodka warned consumers not to use its alcohol to create makeshift hand sanitizers, they instead took it up to develop their own. Local craft distilleries around the country have offered up to produce free sanitizers for their respective communities, while brewing giants like Anheuser-Busch have joined in as well. Another unexpected supplier of needed goods: Grey’s Anatomy and other medical shows are donating their supplies to hospitals. Brands that are capable of producing the supplies that are desperately needed at this time won’t just be doing the right thing, they could also be planting the seeds for future brand love from young generations.


Mental Health Support

Gen Z and Millennials were already anxious generations—and COVID-19 has unquestionably amplified their focus on mental health, as we showed above. With many trapped inside their homes, mental health support needs to come to them—and many of the platforms and apps they spend time on are putting help front and center. Snapchat was set to release its “Here For You” tool in April as a “safety resource” on topics like anxiety, depression, suicide, and bullying, but opted to release it a week early with an added section dedicated to Coronavirus with information Ad Council, the WHO, CDC, Crisis Text Line, NHS, and many other partners. Instagram has also added a tool at the top of their newsfeed to ease Coronavirus anxieties and combat misinformation. Another example: Meditation Headspace is offering part of their content for free—in a collection called “Weathering The Storm”—to “help support [people] through this time of crisis.” We’ve explored how mental health and activities that support it are high on the list of priorities for Gen Z and Millennials, and brands that are viewed as supporting mental health authentically during a time when it’s needed most will likely go a long way with young consumers.


Of course, donating funds to those suddenly in need due to the impacts of Coronavirus is also becoming more common. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage across the country and force businesses and schools to close, unforeseen consequences of the closures have come to light. For example, the crisis facing food insecure children who are now not attending school. Currently, more than 11 million children in the United States live in “food insecure” homes, according to No Kid Hungry, and students that have been provided two to three meals a day at their schools may have trouble getting the nutrition they need at home, especially in families that may not be able to afford food after parents’ jobs have been put on hold or terminated because of the coronavirus. Although some states like New York are still offering food to be picked up for students daily, many kids are still struggling to get enough food. TikTok has stepped up and offered vouchers and gift cards through After-School All-Stars, a charity founded by Arnold Schwarzenegger (yes, as in the Terminator), that families can use to purchase food and other essentials through local grocery stores. As the general manager of TikTok U.S. said in a statement: “We are all operating in uncertain times, and it’s more important now than ever before for both our local and global communities to come together to help those in need.”