Did your favourite brands become more empathetic about you during the first month of lockdown?
We’ve compiled a list of 100 most popular UK brands who are currently active on Instagram. We analysed all Instagram posts within the first month of lockdown (23rd March - 23rd April 2020) as well as the same period the previous year. We categorised all posts using two main metrics: Empathetic and neutral.
Brands were picked based on their popularity and ratings, rated by YouGov. We also selected our top 100 brands based on activity and amount of followers on Instagram.
All figures quoted and used for calculations are rounded to the nearest whole number.
Analysis of the UK’s most popular brands showed that overall they became 250% more empathetic during the first month of lockdown compared to the same period in 2019.
We analysed the Instagram posts made by 100 brands across 10 sectors during the first month of lockdown and during the same period in 2019. We calculated an Empathy Rating by measuring the number of posts where the main sentiment of the message related to empathy, compared to the number of posts with a different sentiment.
We assigned a rating of 1 for posts where the main sentiment was empathetic, for example where the posts showed more empathy for its followers rather than product placements and brand information.
The Travel & Leisure sector made the largest change in the proportion of its posts that were classified as empathetic.
During the first month of lockdown in the UK, many hotels had to close their doors and cancel bookings, and airlines also had to suspend flights. However, many stayed active during this time on Instagram to share uplifting content for their customers.
In our research, we found that in the first month of lockdown the travel & leisure brands we analysed had an Empathy Rating of 50% compared to an Empathy Rating of 2% in the previous year. In 2019, brands in this industry tended to focus more on product focused marketing campaigns.
Overall, the brands we analysed in the travel & leisure industry had a 2366% increase in Empathy Rating.
As the UK settled into new lockdown measures in March 2020, many people around the country were looking for ways to keep busy and stay entertained in their homes. Some may have had more time to binge-watch their favourite TV shows.
While this sector has had the smallest increase in Empathy Rating (27%), in reality this is because they post a lot! This sector posted the most in both 2019 and 2020, and actually published more empathetic posts in 2020 than any other sector we analysed.
So while they changed the least between 2019 and 2020, this is due to the fact that TV and streaming brands were already very empathic in 2019, and continued to be highly active with all types of posts in 2020.
For example, some of the hashtags that ITV used in 2019 were: #SoccerAid #TuesdayMood #DogsOfInstagram #CoupleGoals #FridayFeeling
Some of the hashtags used by ITV during the first month of lockdown included: #TogetherAtHome #StayHome #BritainGetTalking #ClapForOurCarers
The sector with the largest proportion of its total posts that were empathetic in 2020 was Travel & Leisure.
While the Travel & Leisure sector as a whole made the largest change in the proportion of its posts that were classified as empathetic, it was Colgate that changed the tone of their posts the most, with their empathy rating increasing from 0% in 2019 to 100% in 2020.
Their Smile campaign adapted perfectly to the devastating pandemic that was happening around us to bring about a feeling of hope, positivity and comfort.
Virgin Money’s Empathy Rating decreased from 47% in 2019 to 16% in 2020. While this appears to be quite a large drop, their number of posts is actually very small.
A drop from 7 empathetic posts in 2019 to 3 empathetic posts in 2020 means they made the smallest change from a mathematical standpoint, but in reality it seems there simply wasn’t an intentional marketing effort on Instagram.
Some of the hashtags used by Virgin Money during the first month of lockdown included: #MondayMotivation #StayAtHome #TogetherAtHome #StayConnected.
Superdrug made a whopping 66 posts that contributed to their impressive 2020 empathy rating of 65%.
As a very active brand on Instagram, Superdrug’s marketing efforts became focused on community spirit, self-care and support for vulnerable groups during the first month of lockdown.
The Luxury sector increased its proportion of empathetic posts by an impressive 1085% coming in as the 2nd highest sector to change during the first month of lockdown in the UK.
Gucci made an impressive 45 posts during the peak of lockdown and achieved an empathy rating of 100%. Their marketing effort on Instagram changed from a very brand-centric campaign that celebrated luxury fashion, to a campaign that focused wholeheartedly on the care and wellbeing of its audience and loved ones.
Without Gucci the 2020 empathy rating for the luxury sector would have dropped from 25% to 12%.
Did the most followed brand post more empathetic posts in the first month of lockdown?
Instagram is the most followed brand on our list, with 349m followers! Instagram’s Empathy Rating rose a very impressive 39%, going from 11% in 2019 up to 50% in 2020.
Among its efforts to be supportive to its followers, Instagram teamed up with the National Alliance on Mental Illness to share resources and tips around how to support mental health at such testing times.