Since the war in Ukraine, consumers have less and less confidence in the confidence in the economy (NOS, 2022). The willingness to buy even appears to have fallen to its lowest level, according to figures from the CBS. Nevertheless, actual spending has not decreased and this is also reflected in the Consumer Behaviour Monitor. We do see a change when it comes to content preferences, which may be an effect of the war. Also brands have to deal with the war more and more. For the marketer, the question is how to deal with this.

Initiatives and aid actions lead to increase in donations
The war in Ukraine has had the world in its grip for a while now. Great initiatives and aid campaigns are springing up like mushrooms. The urging of the Dutch to donate is therefore clearly reflected in the spending pattern. Regardless of age and gender, the Dutch have spent considerably more money on donations in recent weeks. Nearly 1 in 3 Dutch people (30%) have donated money; this percentage is 12% higher than in week 7 this year. The increase is most visible among highly educated people (47%, +21%).

Issues around communicating about corona give way to new tricky ones

Corona seems to be fading into the background. A clear decrease is visible when it comes to communication by brands about corona. Whereas in week 7, 22% of the Dutch population thought it was important that brands paid attention to corona in their communication/advertising, this percentage dropped to 17% (-5%) in week 11. We did not see this decrease in earlier easing weeks. Corona therefore seems to be less relevant to many. And that is not surprising, because with the recent abolition of all corona measures (where previously the relaxations were only partially abolished), people seem to see it more as a closed chapter this time. This can also be seen more and more on the news platforms, which are exchanging their live corona blog for news about the war.

Despite the current political turmoil, people still do not think it is very important for brands to communicate about politics. Only 12% of Dutch people think brands should pay attention to this topic in their communication/advertising. Yet many brands today face political dilemmas: should you as a brand communicate about the war or not? In some cases there is a practical side to it, think of products that can no longer be delivered because of the boycott on Russia. Other brands have a very clear objective and also a social responsibility. Take for example VodafoneZiggothe brand that recently donated 12,000 SIM cards to refugees from Ukraine. Earlier, the brand already announced that all customers can make free (mobile) calls and send free (text) messages from the Netherlands to Ukraine and vice versa until the end of March. These are great initiatives that seamlessly fit in with their ultimate goal: to ensure that customers are always connected. Also NS hopes to do its bit by helping refugees. For example, they recently announced that Ukrainian refugees can use their passport as a ticket.

If, as a brand, you want to communicate something about the war, it is especially important to do something that fits the purpose of your brand. If it doesn't fit, there is a risk of coming across as less credible.

Marcel van Brenk, Partner at EY VODW: 'The fact that brands are forced to take a position on the war in Ukraine cannot be seen as separate from the long-standing development where companies are increasingly at the centre of the debate. It forces every company to think proactively about what their brand stands for and what that means in concrete terms in different societal scenarios.

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