Now is the time for businesses and communities to pull together – as a brand you must take this opportunity to show the world and your customers what you’re made of.
This unique time is proving stressful for many businesses and it could make or break brands – consumers will remember what you did for your people, your customers and your communities.
Waitrose has recently come under media scrutiny for, and has now subsequently reversed, its ‘time bank’ absence system, whereby staff who had time off due to coronavirus had to make up their hours. Staff warned that many people were coming to work as a result of the policy, putting themselves and their colleagues at risk. Prior to this, the John Lewis Partnership was praised for its positive actions amidst the coronavirus outbreak – these included the creation of a support fund for affected staff, free staff meals, cash donations to charities including AgeUK and the Trussell Trust and putting together care and wellbeing packages for NHS/frontline staff and the vulnerable. This highlights the need for consistency and careful consideration of the impact of every single policy and decision. During this period of heightened stress and emotion, positive sentiment towards a brand can quickly turn sour.
Here we look at brands who’ve been praised for their actions during the coronavirus outbreak:
Leon – The restaurant chain is keeping certain branches open to NHS employees and other key workers, providing takeaway and delivery meals to NHS workers with a 50% discount. It is also bringing together other restaurants and suppliers to deliver free daily hot meals to NHS critical care staff. FeedNHS – also backed by the Wasabi, Abokado and Franco Manca chains – will deliver 5,600 meals a day to five major hospitals in London.
Avon has donated £150,000 to the UK national domestic abuse charity Refuge, whom it has a long standing partnership with. The health and beauty brand is also donating wellbeing packs and sanitiser to NHS staff, bringing the total value of goods and cash donated to over £400,000.00.
Kurt Geiger – When the British footwear and accessories brand was forced to close its 70 UK stores, it pledged 55 gift cards worth £100 each to every intensive care unit in cities where it has a shop. It has also asked its 2,500 store staff to volunteer for community initiatives run by Age UK while they remain on the payroll. Chief executive Neil Clifford is also suspending his salary until stores reopen. The company will gift a pair of shoes daily to customers who are demonstrating kindness in their community, via its Instagram channel and will give NHS workers a 50% discount for a year, when lockdown is lifted.
Unilever – The company behind brands including Dove, PG Tips and Domestos is contributing £89m globally to fight the pandemic, including £47m worth of soap, sanitiser, bleach and food. The London-headquartered firm is adapting manufacturing lines to produce sanitiser for use in hospitals and has also pledged to pay its small- and medium-sized suppliers early to help their cashflow.
H&M and Zara – Both companies have adapted their manufacturing and supply chains to produce masks, gowns and protective equipment for frontline health workers.
Doing Our Bit
Here at IWP we’ve doubled the time we donate to good causes and are now giving back 40% of our time to support small/micro businesses and community projects through this challenging time. If you’re a small business owner and need support, please get in touch.
We’ve also collated all the retailer discounts and benefits for NHS/key workers into one handy sheet which can be downloaded here.