What consumers really want to see in their holiday ads this year
As the holidays get underway, brands are grappling with how much social distancing to incorporate into their ads. Marketers want to be sensitive to certain issues but not alienate potential customers.
“How we look at a hug, a kiss, a hold of a hand, a crowded market, a mask-less person—all of these things have changed and brands have no idea what people are actually responding to and what they may respond negatively to,” says Pranav Yadav, CEO of Neuro-Insight Americas and Europe, speaking on the latest episode of Ad Age’s “Marketer’s Brief” podcast. His business uses neuroscience to measure how consumers are responding to ads. Unlike focus groups where consumers might say something other than what is truly in their subconscious, Neuro-Insight tracks brain activity directly. And the company has seen an uptick in business as brands struggle with pandemic-related questions.
Yadav says that most consumers do not respond negatively to mask-wearing in ads—he notes that it usually depends on the context of a commercial.
“People are not responding to masks in any bad way—the presence of them is not taking away from the narrative,” he says.
However, one area that marketers should steer clear of is nostalgia marketing, particularly for recent, pre-COVID-19 days. Using words like “huddle” could upset customers, Yadav says.
“It is too close,” he says. “People are upset that they can’t get to do the things they could do only up to six months ago,” he adds, noting that “we have trained our brains to reject these ideas.”
For the holidays, Yadav expects brands to focus on price-related messaging and deals, rather than the emotionality of the moment.
“They are limited to not showing outdoors or big celebrations around the holidays so they seem to believe that the only way to actually get people to act is price sensitivity or giving them deals or offers,” he says.