Launchmetrics’ Michael Jais in Cannes.

In challenging times, maintaining brand equity is fundamental, and as the landscape changes as a result of COVID-19, consumers are seeking relatable information and stories.

That’s the word from Launchmetrics, a brand performance cloud used by fashion, luxury and beauty executives, which just issued a new report, “Marketing Reset: The Voices Impacting Brand Performance During COVID-19.” The study reveals strategies brands need to consider in their marketing approach during this reset time.

Michael Jais, chief executive officer and founder of Launchmetrics, held a 45-minute virtual press conference Wednesday morning sharing highlights of the report, which sheds light on how decisions brands make today will ultimately affect how their businesses perform tomorrow.

In a time when marketing plans of fashion, luxury and beauty brands around the world were paralyzed, the data suggests a “return to realism.” During the crisis, consumers were no longer looking for content to fuel escapism, but rather were sheltered at home searching for information to understand what was happening in the world.

“In recent months we have been going through a transitional period, and now, as businesses reopen and brands seek to reset their business plans for the remainder of their year and into 20121, they will need to leverage the right tools and data to empower their decision-making,” said Jais. “Moving forward, it will be about making smarter decisions with tighter budgets; this is why digital transformation and having a deep understanding of ROI is critical for your brand to react in real time in order to make informed, strategic decisions.”

Asked during the press conference what luxury brands should be doing to reset their marketing plans for the year, Jais said the number-one topic is the digitalization of their collections; the second is to figure out how to restart in China, while Europe and the U.S. are recovering, and the third is to measure the impact of the media and to determine one’s goals and who do they want to address. That is important not only to ensure the optimization of resources invested in marketing, but also to face a constantly changing world.

The report noted the world has seen a shift in values that consumers consider when making buying decisions, so brands must constantly monitor the evolution of their markets to understand what is working now, and how to quickly adapt to changes as the world reopens.

Asked what will be the impact the next few months of brands boycotting Facebook, Jais said it was hard to say. He believes the rise of TikTok will have a huge impact in the coming six months, and there will be more of a balance with Instagram and the rest of the industry.

The report showed that from Jan. 1 through April 30, brands’ total Media Impact Value was $19.7 billion, up 0.27 percent. Total placements were 4.4 million, off 3.96 percent, and the average MIV post was $4,400, up 4.4 percent, versus a year ago.

According to the report, during the crisis the most significant shift was in “voices,” and understanding the role these voices play, which is crucial in building successful reset strategies. Media increased by 44 percent to $11 billion in MIV from January through April, becoming the top voice, as consumers looked to reputable, trusted news sources for information to gain an understanding of the current climate. There was a decline in print and social media, 14 and 22 percent, respectively, but a rise in online media, up 64 percent.

The MIV value generated by all-star and megainfluencers increased in 2020, while consumers sought out these larger, more authoritative voices for reliable information, but also to see how they were responding to the crisis. Celebrities and influencers frequently shared their stay-at-home tips and social initiatives to assist relief efforts.

Owned media was the third-top performance voice for brands, and though its MIV remained relatively the same, there was a shift in the type of content that created impact. Consumers looked for news information and relatable entertainment, with an observable trend showing YouTube and video content generating higher levels of MIV. Content that performed well in terms of MIV was related to brand value, rather than product promotion. Owned media remained stable, with a spike in May, as it proved to be a key tool to keep brands connected with consumers during the coronavirus crisis.

The brands that accumulated the most value via owned media, were those that directly shared with their followers what they were doing to respond to COVID-19. For example, Louis Vuitton earned $501,000 in MIV from its post saying it would be using their factories to produce hundreds of thousands of surgical masks. Glossier earned $251,000 in MIV by sharing on Instagram that it donated hand creams and other products to health-care professionals.

Both of the top media posts in the first four months of the year were on YouTube and featured popular celebrities at home. The number-one post was Post Malone, who showed his jewelry collection for GQ on YouTube, generating $449,000 in MIV. Second was Jessica Alba giving a smoky eye tutorial for Vogue on YouTube, generating $429,000 in MIV. These partnerships offer insight into routines, makeup tutorials and the “celebrity lifestyle” as a form of video entertainment, the report said. “Previously media publications competed with content creators by moving print online to migrate readers to cheaper platforms. The crisis has supported this move, leading to a decline in the advertising investments in print media and toward online sources,” the report said.

Interestingly, more than half of the online content in the fashion, luxury and beauty industries produced between January and April was linked to COVID-19 in some way. In May, searches for “hobbies to pick up during the quarantine,” increased by 400 percent.

The survey showed that 15.6 percent of social content was tied to COVID-19, while 52.2 percent on online content was linked to COVID-19.

Launchmetrics’ data showed that the MIV generated by all-star Influencers decreased the least as compared with the other tiers in 2020, allowing them to grow from 16 percent of the overall influencers’ MIV in 2019 to 24 percent in 2020. The report noted that consumers look to these larger, more authoritative names for reliable information during uncertain times, but also to see how they are responding to the crisis situation. There was a 69 percent decrease in microinfluencers’ total MIV in 2020, while mega- and midtier influencers decreased in the MIV they generated for brands, but still remain valuable voices for brands during COVID-19. (Microinfluencers have 10,000 to 100,000 followers, midtier influencers have 100,000 to 500,000 followers, megainfluencers have 500,000 to two million followers, and all-star influencers have more than two million followers.)

Further, the report pointed out that celebrities were one of the only voices who saw a dramatic increase in MIV in 2020. Their average value accumulated per post was also significantly higher (55 percent), which indicates the quality of publications by celebrities increased. Their average MIV per placement went to $39,439 versus $25,445 a year ago.

The report noted that brand equity will become the highest value that companies in the industry must consider and build. It noted that consumers, affected and influenced by the global crisis, will only believe in brands with true transparency. “How your brand is perceived through each of its actions and initiatives — whether sustainable, responsible, or committed to the consumer — will be what builds the brand equity that helps you stand out in the market,” the report said.

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