Let’s Meet Where We Are

How brands can address new consumer needs in the face of our collective crisis

Rebecca Paul

As society continues to adapt to life on lockdown, brands have a unique opportunity to break out of their standard programming, expand their offerings, and support the rapidly shifting needs of consumers. As reported in a recent newsletter from CB Insights, online use of the terms virtual connections and virtual happy hour spiked last quarter. These trends are great indicators of how many people are looking to go digital as they re-create the familiar in this new, often anxiety-ridden reality. 

While what lies ahead is largely unknown, what we do know is that we’re all in this together. As we consider how to address the needs of the collective consumer, we should be asking ourselves these two questions: What are consumers feeling, and what can we do to help? Here’s some inspiration for getting started, as we all attempt to meet each other where we are. 

Grief - Support

Our society is experiencing collective grief, and consumers are seeking support that can be provided through moments of delight and comfort. For now, the brick-and-mortar experience is not an option—so those moments will mainly come through online experiences and at-home delivery. Brands must focus on how to repurpose their CX efforts in these channels. Things like supply chain transparency, contactless delivery, and curbside pickup can help customers feel supported by retailers as they adjust to their new normal.

Fear - Reassurance​

There is enormous fear of the unknown. In response, consumers are looking for reassurance—from the news, from their peers, and from brands. For this reassurance to be credible, it must reflect both the reality that no one can predict the future and the likelihood that there will be negative long-term effects from our current situation. Concrete assistance in the form of financial flexibility is one way brands can address this fear. Financial support programs including flexible financing, interest rates, and payment options can help consumers feel more comfortable making financial commitments.

Boredom - Entertainment

With stay-at-home orders currently in effect around the world, people are looking to social media and other digital outlets for entertainment. Leveraging these channels to enhance your own product offerings can be a powerful tool when attempting to connect with consumers. As a brand, what additional value can you provide? What content can you create to complement or enhance your existing value proposition?

Overwhelm - Normalcy

Consumers are bombarded with new information every day, and for those now working from or otherwise stuck at home, their daily routine has forever changed. In response, people are looking for ways to establish new rhythms as they adapt to their “new normal.” Rethinking things like merchandising and online sales to appropriately reflect our altered state of life can help to normalize the day-to-day.

Receptivity - New Ideas

Consumers are seeking new ways of doing things from myriad sources, including the internet, friends, and social media. They’re craving new information about how to keep themselves entertained, connect with friends, practice good hygiene and self-care, and even up their cooking game. Brands can offer creative solutions in all these categories, even if such content is a slight departure from their typical focus.

Isolation - Community

In this time of extreme solitude, consumers are using digital tools to replicate normal social interactions and connect with loved ones and other communities. Increased use of social media and other digital outlets offers new opportunities for collective engagement and entertainment. Finding innovative ways to help consumers participate in community activities that are safe, as well as tools and content to help them in their daily lives, increases brands’ ability to provide value.

Helplessness - Altruism

Many consumers are feeling helpless and looking for ways they can provide support to those in need. Brand-driven social campaigns increase opportunities to connect with customers and help them offer such support when their ability to give back on an individual level can be limited. Businesses can also give visibility into their own efforts at community assistance, encouraging like-minded behavior and creating a virtuous circle of goodwill. Stopthespread.org is a great source of information on what top brands are doing to help.


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