What Brands Can Learn from the Arts

COVID-19 did a lot of things, mostly negative, to our society. It also exposed cracks around for years but cast an even stronger light on them, particularly the structural racism and need for much more equity and social change.

An extensive survey this April and May by cultural marketing firm LaPlaca Cohen and Solve Linett Audience Research revealed not only valuable insight into the impact of the pandemic on cultural audiences, but also their overall attitudes that may be valuable to marketers in many industries.

Significance

What made this study significant is that it was one of the largest of this type ever undertaken in the U.S. It polled 122,000 people from 653 cultural organizations as well as an additional 2,000 people who were representative of the demographic diversity in the U.S. through NORC (National Opinion Research Center).

Findings

The study confirmed earlier surveys that the economic impact of COVID-19 not only hit minority populations the hardest but also the youngest. Most affected were Hispanics (55%), followed by Native Americans (49%), Blacks (43%), Asian/Pacific Islanders (39%), and Whites (34%).

By age, it got worse as the demographics got younger. Only 15% of the silent generation reported having adverse economic effects from the pandemic compared to boomers (31%), Gen X (43%), millennials (45%), and Gen Z (70%).

Other results that may be of interest to certain brands were that the top five things people would like is to get outdoors (58%), connect with other people (54%), have fun (54%), stay informed with trusted information (43%), and humor (42%).

Another interesting discovery was that 81% reported doing something creative during the pandemic. Their favorite was cooking a new recipe or baking (62%) followed by singing alone or with others (37%), crafting something by hand (27%), painting, drawing or printmaking (20%), photography or photo editing (19%), and creative writing, poetry or journaling (16%).

By the time the survey ended on May 19, the top five things respondents wanted to do after the pandemic is over was to get together with loved ones in their homes (70%), go to a bar or restaurant (63%), visit a park, garden or zoo (46%), go to the movies (37%), and go to a church temple or mosque (32%).

Recommendations

And while the survey was aimed at audiences of cultural activities and events, six of the ten findings of what would influence respondents to return are in the control of not just those nonprofits, but also most companies. Increased cleaning for all surfaces ranked highest with 54%. Reduced admission levels followed at 46%, enforcement of masks for visitors at 43%, enforcement of masks for staff at 31%, health screening measures prior to entry at 29%, and the organization’s decision that it’s time to reopen at 19%.

External factors outside the organizations’ control included a COVID-19 vaccine becoming available was 50%, an announcement from government or public health officials that it was safe to return was 41%, wide availability of COVID-19 testing at 40%, and seeing other people around them beginning to attend at 14%.

Some of the roles respondents wanted cultural organizations to play during the pandemic could also apply to some industries. Around half (53%) wanted organizations to help them laugh and relax. Another 48% wanted them to stay connected, and 46% said they wanted distractions and an escape during the crisis.

Some final food for thought is that an earlier article discussed how brands might partner with nonprofits to strengthen bonds in the community. Identifying such a nonprofit to partner with could help strengthen both organizations during these times.

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