How brands can build emotional connections by combatting driver stress

As more people get back in their cars, Nigel Fung, UK sales lead, Waze explains the key drivers of comfort and company

How brands can build emotional connections by combatting driver stress

Last Christmas, as part of Coca-Cola’s global festive activity, Waze users could have Santa as their own personal navigator, allowing the man himself to guide them “Ho Ho” home.

It’s a great example of how Waze’s ad formats – such as Change Voice, Zero Speed Takeovers and Branded Pins – can drive increased brand awareness and store visits.

But a Happy Commuter study conducted by our agency, Battenhall, found these formats can also drive a much deeper connection with consumers – by helping drivers be less lonely, less stressed, and less late.

Covid-19 has boosted this opportunity for brands to emotionally connect, as people turn to their cars as their transport of choice and look for ways to reduce the anxiety around being out and about.

According to the Ipsos Covid-19 tracker, 56% of consumers prefer the car as a mode of transport and two-thirds are missing restaurants and cinemas, among other places.

Even as and when things return to something approaching normality, the stress of driving won’t disappear. In the Happy Commuter research, 71% of people said they arrive at work feeling stressed by their journeys. With 68% of workers travelling to work by car, according to the Department for Transport’s 2019 stats, that’s a lot of stressed people.

These super-stressed drivers claimed three main triggers, in normal times – feeling lonely while driving 44%, a fear of being late for work 21% and too much traffic 55%. Now there’s a fourth: Covid-19-related anxiety. That’s a big ball of loneliness and stress.

How brands can connect
Back to Santa. Who better to tackle loneliness on long journeys than a recognisable, friendly or entertaining voice? Coca-Cola gets it.

As does McDonald’s. The brand’s legendary M glows on our dark map inviting people to stop at its 24-hour restaurants at night and prompting 21% of drivers to physically re-route to them. That illuminated sign represents a beacon of comfort and company – and 25,000 store visits a month.

Waze is a destination-marketing platform that knows where consumers are going, so brands can be present in relevant moments as people return to post-lockdown lives – and provide a real sense of understanding their needs.

As a geo-platform that works in a local, contextualised way, Waze Pins give brands the option to let drivers know, for example, which store locations are open, their opening times and any hygiene or safety protocols, as well as which off er drive-thru or click-and-collect options. Thus reducing Covid-19-related anxiety.

By contextually understanding not only why someone is in the car, but also being able to predict if it’s a regular route they use, retailers such as the Co-op, Shell and Tesco also serve Zero Speed Takeovers to promote special offers at the right time, at the right place, on the right journey, giving drivers the convenience of knowing where to find a nearby shop or petrol station. When you’re running late too, this is a massive bonus.

And talking of being late, the fact that Waze collaborates with cities and towns to provide them with data needed to fix as many traffic issues as possible makes the platform attractive to drivers who want to alleviate traffic stress and get to places more quickly.

Be remembered for all the right reasons
From more than a million Waze users reporting incidents, to volunteer map-builders proactively helping keep traffic fl owing when accidents happen, to our long-term partnerships with organisations such as TfL, these initiatives help broaden our user base by offering a utility. Something brands can dovetail into neatly.

Waze users can also feel known and understood when brands use the simple but useful Zero Speed Takeover, taking advantage of destination targeting and day-part messaging when, for example, people are in the market for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Ensuring no distraction while driving, it offers promotions or advertises locations for food shopping or meals when the vehicle stops. Or, reminds drivers to order a food delivery when they reach their destination.

In a world where advertising is regularly castigated for being intrusive, irritating or pointless, brands that are useful in times of loneliness or stress can make a real impact on people’s lives. That stuff gets remembered.