It’s June. Months since the global pandemic caused the U.S. economy and life as we knew it to turn upside down. What do we know? Things are changing fast as it relates to consumer sentiment, and as predicted, messaging that may have been timely and resonant in the middle of March is no longer compelling today. In fact, it can be downright repulsive. Consider these perhaps once-poignant phrases that are now beyond tired – “in these unprecedented times,” “now more than ever” and “we’re all in this together.” We ourselves made reference to being in this together in mid-March. At the time, that felt true and relevant. Today it is trite.
So, what is a brand to do? Get super clear on what your brand stands for and don’t tell it to consumers. Show them. Defining and living up to personal values has taken center stage for affluents. We, collectively those within the top 15% and those who market to the top 15%, are experiencing a reckoning of sorts. What really matters? Where/how do I want to spend my time, my money, my energy? How do I want to live? While this certainly translates to the home and wellness trends, it goes much deeper than that.
Affluent consumers have long looked for and been loyal to brands that reflect their values, whether consciously or not. This is increasingly true among younger and high-end affluents, as we’ve written about here. Certainly, the pandemic will only accelerate this trend. Even the slightest socially conscious, affluent individual can no longer deny the previously invisible workers behind the products and services they consume and question, am I part of the problem or part of the solution?
Previously, selecting and staying loyal to specific brands was a way of projecting the desired image. The economic shutdown, disruption of past routines and concentrated time at home with family have forced many to reassess one’s personal values, perhaps in a way like never before. As such, the role of brands and which ones consumers choose to support are shifting to more closely align with intrinsic values. Today, it is not as much about projecting the right image as it is about doing the right thing. If I buy from this manufacturer or retailer, how do I know if I’m supporting a company that is doing right by their employees and the communities they operate? Are they paying a true living wage and providing paid leave for frontline workers? Are they investing in local communities and working to ensure the delivery of said products are not at the cost of anyone’s personal safety? Many are asking: Am I having a positive or negative impact on other human beings? Are my actions – my consumption – making things better or worse?
Brands that demonstrate how they are doing right by employees, customers and the planet will win. But the efforts must be genuine and real. Not lip service wrapped in platitudes or talking heads. Show, don’t tell has always been the mantra of excellent brand advertising, and that’s never been more true than today. Use real-life examples, demonstrating how your product or service is having a positive impact on the lives of those who manufacture or consume the product. You might say authenticity is still key, but kindness is now king. As we’ve said before, what your brand stands for matters, and brands doing right by others will win.