Instagram and Pot Noodle popularity surges as pandemic reshapes society

Consumers turn against private-healthcare business HCA, according to research from Proquo AI.

Pot Noodle: still available in most supermarkets
Pot Noodle: still available in most supermarkets

Consumer stockpiling amid the coronavirus crisis has led to a sharp rise in popularity for packaged-goods, baby-food and ready-meal brands, such as Charlie Bigham's, Pot Noodle and Kiddylicious, according to new research.

Social-distancing measures introduced as a result of the pandemic has also seen Instagram gain a huge boost in consumer sentiment.

Meanwhile, people are turning against private-healthcare companies, such as HCA Healthcare, as private hospitals come under fire for reportedly planning to charge the NHS to rent their beds.

Private-healthcare businesses have seen the most significant drop of any sector in public perception, according to the new data from marketing agency Proquo AI. 

The analysis shows the impact that the spread of Covid-19 is having on brands by capturing how people feel and think about brands every day for the past month, monitoring more than 222 brands across 26 categories before and during the pandemic.

HCA’s score for integrity among customers saw a 22% decline between 3 March (when the government confirmed the 50th Covid-19 case in the UK) and 19 March. 

Meanwhile, positive sentiment for Instagram from people who don’t use the platform has gone up 400%.

Non-users found Instagram 55% more understanding of their needs, 82% easier to relate to, 48% more popular and 62% clearer in the role the brand plays in their lives compared with before the crisis began.

Baby-food brands such as Kiddylicious saw a surge in positive consumer perception among people who don’t currently buy the brand. Non-users felt the brand was 13% more relevant, 11% more consistent and 13% more understanding of their needs than before Covid-19 cases in the UK hit the 50 mark.

People are also turning to brands they wouldn’t necessarily use outside a crisis, such as packaged-goods brands that can be stockpiled.

Ready-meal brand Charlie Bigham’s scored a 15% increase in relevance, driven by men. Meanwhile, instant-snack brand Pot Noodle saw a marked rise in empathy (up 15%), especially among younger people aged 18-24. This same age group also found Ginsters, the hot-snacks brand, 54% more empathetic than before the crisis hit. 

The artificial-intelligence-powered analysis gathered more than 1.6 million expressed feelings from more than 30,000 people within the UK and the US.

Jim Brennan, managing director of Proquo AI, said: "The ability for brands to maintain their reliability, to understand the needs of people, to be easily accessible and maintain connection – even through times of social distancing – will be the things which ultimately determine brand success.

"And as consumers continue hunkering down in a global effort to flatten the curve, brands can be sure they’ll see a positive light at the end of the tunnel, so long as they continue to stay strong, tune in and serve the ever-changing needs of people."

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