24th May, 2022

How the Pandemic Changed Customer Language


How the Pandemic Changed Customer Language

If the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that you should expect the unexpected. While a global pandemic might be a major blindside, language trends don’t have to be.

Persado conducted an in-depth analysis of the major shifts in messaging from 2020 to 2022, revealing the language that performed successfully often held one core element: Positivity.

Customers turned towards positive language during this dark two-year period. According to the World Health Organization, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic saw a 25% increase in world-wide depression and anxiety. An influx of unprecedented stress created another international health crisis — an epidemic of emotional exhaustion.

In the midst of all that, who wouldn’t want to hear a kind word?

Persado mapped out the influence and impact of positive language in messaging during the pandemic with a new language analysis. An in-depth audit of the highest performing patterns evolved into our Mindful Narratives program, a context-sensitive approach to communication during a time of unprecedented challenges and uncertainty.

2020 through 2022 have been a unique time when the entire world was sharing a collective experience. Consumers began to expect more from messaging. They wanted to buy from brands that spoke to social issues while creating solidarity and a deeper connection. As a result, messaging had to change. While the world continued to manage disruption, Persado saw brands adapt the way they communicate with customers to better align with their current needs. Through the Mindful Narratives program, Persado conducted 500 AI-powered client campaigns encompassing over 32,000 message permutations, comparing language used from March 2020 to March 2022.

This program, coupled with Motivation AI, allowed Persado to observe the pandemic-related language trends over the last two years. Here’s what we found.

Positivity Creates Community

Persado adapted Mindful Narratives for campaigns that push services for consumer safety and a steady return to normal life, such as contactless delivery, store reopening precautions, and gifts that could be appreciated while living remotely. Persado also incorporated a monitoring system that flagged for potentially offensive or inappropriate language in customer-facing messaging. As a result, Persado observed that brand messaging turned significantly more empathetic, shifting toward a community-oriented mindset.

It’s clear why positive language has resonated with audiences over the past two years. In addition to creating feelings of security, forward progress, and community, positivity also offers a touch of levity and support.

Take a moment to reflect on the first months of quarantine, when most people weren’t able to see friends, family, and loved ones. Then, this message pops up:

“Your daily dose of joy”

It feels nice to get a little bit of joy during such a difficult time. Positive language acted as the light in the dark during two tumultuous years. We see this shift towards bright, empathetic language as a direct response to a rapid and unexpected influx of stress, uncertainty, and loneliness.

In addition to fostering a sense of togetherness with customers, positive language created a unified trend spanning industries.

Lasting Change Across Industries

It’s rare that one marketing technique will have the same success in multiple industries. However, positive language did just that – when contextualized for the right verticals and audiences.

What do retail, financial services, and insurance industries have in common? They all utilized different types of positivity in their messaging to significant results. The positive language came in several different emotional tones, including Achievement, Gratification, Intimacy, and more.

Here are some examples of positive language across industries:

Retail: Special announcement, you’ve got access to special prices!

Retailers found major success in leaning in on Achievement; so much so that language around Achievement continued to be a top performer for retail through March 2022. This industry also used Intimacy and Gratification to significant success, with over 75% of all messaging around those emotions improving performance.

Financial Services: We’re following up about your recent call.

The financial industry leveraged positivity by using Attention, Gratification, and Exclusivity while keeping in mind the nature of its offers and the differing impact COVID-19 might have had on customer’s finances.

Insurance: You’re getting a headstart on your claim.

Insurance companies also incorporated positivity into their messaging, staying course with the financial industry by using Attention and Gratification.

Travel: The adventure you’ve been waiting for.

The travel industry, which took a heavy hit during 2020, bounced back into business in 2021 by also leveraging positive language around Achievement, Exclusivity, and Gratification.

Positive messaging in the travel industry not only presented customers with a much-needed chance to get away and relax; they also provided an element of familiarity. Travel becoming an option again gave people hope that life in the midst of a pandemic could resume to some kind of normal.

Staying on Top of Change

Pandemic times have been anything but predictable. Although positive language continues to be a successful driver of engagement, its nuances and use contexts have already shifted. 2022 has brought the gradual lifting of travel restrictions, a return to in-person events, and more knowledge about the coronavirus.

As we move into a new kind of normal around the pandemic, language trends will follow suit. Messaging around safety, intimacy, and gratitude is already growing less impactful. Tone – across industries – is now distinctly milder than when compared to that of the pre-COVID era. If companies hope to keep their messaging relevant, they must make their messaging as adaptable as the customers it reaches.

Persado is the only Motivation AI platform that enables personalized communications at scale to immediately inspire each individual to engage and act. More than just language-gen, the Persado Motivation AI understands the intention of a message, optimizes what language will motivate and engage individuals, and refines that language for elevated performance. Want to learn more? Start a conversation with us.


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