Selling To An Audience Stressed By COVID-19 – “We recommend that for every 5 posts, you make 2 posts relatable about life at home and 3 posts about shopping,” the company said in the email, which a recipient shared with The New York Times. “This approach creates a softer sell in your feed while continuing to provide guidance to your followers during this time.”
RewardStyle also provided an image that said “Staying In is So In,” that could help “give context and balance” to shopping posts. People stuck at home could be a good thing, a company representative wrote, adding, “Nothing like a little retail therapy to help pass the hours.”
The messages were jarring to influencers uneasy about promoting new fashions in the midst of a public health crisis that was crushing the economy.
But they provided a glimpse into how desperate retailers and marketers are tailoring their sales pitches for newly homebound consumers, who are fluctuating between panic and ennui while scrolling through their Facebook and Instagram feeds.
Retail sales plummeted 8.7 percent in March, the largest decline since the data started being tracked three decades ago. With online business now crucial for many brands whose futures are threatened by store closings, the sell itself has become a delicate dance.
“People are more anxious, they’re on high alert, they’re under a lot of stress and there’s a lot of bad news they’re consuming and experiencing,” said Mae Karwowski, chief executive of Obviously, an influencer agency that has been adjusting the tone and messaging of campaigns.
“We want to make sure brands aren’t attached to those really negative things that are happening while still acknowledging that we’re all communally going through this.”
Some companies have barred any mention of the coronavirus or Covid-19 in influencer posts, even if the ads are about staying at home or taking care of family.
Ms. Karwowski’s agency, Obviously, has recommended that influencers working at home should portray products in everyday clothing and that images should feel “bright and cheerful.” It advised against advertising from bed or in pajamas.
“Being in bed can work if you’re talking about self-care and taking care of yourself, but not ‘Haven’t left my bed in days — send help,’” Ms. Karwowski said. “One thing to ask yourself if you are a creator: How is this going to make my audience feel, what emotions will it bring out in them?”
The idea, she said, is to aim for positivity and calmness rather than stress or anxiety.