Key to my role as a strategist is locating and sharing credible data from which we build insights to drive client strategy and campaigns.  On a weekly basis, I send a note to all our agency leads so they can understand the most interesting data sources I have found and used this week. This is only ever a snapshot, but I hope a valuable one. From this week, we have decided to share the highlights with our wider network. I welcome questions and suggestions about this data and / or other sources so do get in touch at

Insight 1: Data is showing that our interesting in COVID *itself* is declining.  Both Google (search) and Brandwatch (content) are showing dramatic declines in the US and UK.


Google trends shows dramatic decline in most popular searches

Brandwatch (subscription only):

Brandwatch also shows a decline in most popular searches

What does that mean for communicators?  Whether its COVID-fatigue, a sense that things are improving, or a search for distraction, our audiences are no longer overwhelmed by receiving or searching for COVID content.  Now is the moment to begin to (re) widen your messaging.

Insight 2: Safety messaging matters most.  The data (Kantar, Ipsos, GWI) is telling us audiences are continuing to respond to safety messaging above all else.

GWI notes, “In question after question, consumers express a desire to minimize their exposure to risk.   When asked what they want from essential stores, for example, safety-oriented options topped the list (with ways to enter or exit locations as quickly as possible recording the highest score of all). Safety concerns are also leading people to say they’ll make slow returns to locations once they reopen their doors. Almost 50% say they’ll not visit shops “for some time” or “for a long time”. Almost 60% say the same about large outdoor venues such as stadia, approaching 65% for large indoor venues such as cinemas and concert halls.”

Similarly, Ipsos emphasises that the data show it that “There is still a lot of apprehension about ‘getting back to normal’ and when it comes to brands.  People need reassurance that advertisers have considered their safety and put the necessary precautions in place.  B&Q and McDonalds were mentioned as examples of brands who have set the right tone in their TV ads.”

Kantar data from the US shows that although women are more concerned about safety measures than men, across the board safety fears remain. “One of the largest gaps between women and men (15 percentage points) stems from one of the key tenets of America’s response to the pandemic: social distancing. 58% of women believe in its necessity versus 43% of men. Regular sterilisation of public places was another area of significant disagreement between women and men, as was the requirement for people to wear masks outside of the home. Forty-four per cent of women believe mask requirements are needed to return to normal life, compared with 37% of men.”

What does this mean for communicators?  Safety messaging can feel boring and uncreative.  And, in the context of the trend above, it may feel unnecessary.  But audiences are still highly risk-averse and clamouring for safety messaging.  Make it available and clear.

Insight 3: There is a continued trend of positive differentiating our personal or national behaviours and expectations from that of the wider population or world at large. In general, people feel less at risk than others, and more like they are doing the right thing (Ipsos).

We feel less at risk than others:

Data shows that we currently feel less at risk than other countries

And that we are better behaved:

Graph showing that we feel confident in the government's messaging

What does this mean for communicators?  Messaging would do well to focus on benevolence – helping others more at risk, or who are exposing themselves more – than personal behaviours.