It is human nature to freeze when thrown into unfamiliar territory. It is a state of pausing, canceling or limiting action. People become overly cautious in an effort to avoid potential losses. And like consumers, brands are fighting this battle in their own way too.
While this is a common and understandable reaction, like Ernest Rutherford the scientist once famously said, “we haven’t got the money…so we’ll have to think”.
We are at a threshold moment, the kind that breaks paradigms and reconfigures the way we see the world and the way we imagine value and the actions we take. And this creates as much opportunity as loss, although it may be easier to envision losses at this time than to spot new opportunities because of how uncertain the situation is.
This article is for marketers who wish to create positive impact during Covid, marketers who desire to emerge from this crisis as leaders who have created and delivered extraordinary value to consumers in the face of a first-time and unprecedented crisis and its aftermath.
So, what is the opportunity here for marketers?
The biggest opportunity is to understand how the meaning of value is being reconfigured in consumer minds during these times and adapt offerings to this new meaning. For instance, consumer definition of value is currently being re-defined in various ways basis -
This is the biggest opportunity because it offers the future forward marketer the potential to deliver unprecedented value to consumers when most other competitors have gone silent or are in play safe mode. There is wisdom in the realization that any investment at this time, is going to be far more cost effective and impactful now, while competition is on freeze mode.
It is also important to note that during a crisis, one’s memories are vivid and long lasting. This is true for brands and its consumers as well. People, brands and institutions that stand up for consumers in their time of need – physically, emotionally and spiritually will forever be remembered in a special way and that offers the next big opportunity. This is the time for brands to create indelible and long-lasting memories in consumer minds, by solving real problems in ways that are authentic to who they are. The value is in changing HOW YOU ARE, as opposed to WHO YOU ARE.
And finally, the fact that we are at a threshold moment is a great opportunity too. It offers the potential to create a new world order – this is a moldable moment in history wherein we have a chance to shape the future more profoundly than ever before. While there is no way to truly predict the future, the future could be envisioned as a canvas we paint, through our actions in the present and today, the canvas is more blank than ever. For instance, an opportunity for brands through all this is the prospect of addressing this never before humanitarian crisis in meaningful ways. How can we contribute positively in these tough times and do GOOD by the consumer in unique and compelling ways?
This is indeed a great time for brands to re-imagine their role in consumer lives and align their marketing strategies to:
1. Change or adapt the features of one’s product/ service to reflect new awareness or new concerns.
2. Identify new needs, new purchase occasions, new moments of consumption that re-define value during these times.
3. Draw from one’s archetypal value/ source power to identify the specific problems that are uniquely and credibly solvable by the brand, and in a manner that creates emotional relevance and memorability.
4. Innovate to create a safer, better and secure world for humanity.
5. Address the human mind in crisis and reinforce the good and the positive through a humanistic lens. There is a need to demonstrate good intent, good values and ethical behaviours that will carry value in the short term and the long term.
6. It is also an opportunity to strengthen your employer brand and make a positive impact on current and prospective employees. It is an opportunity to demonstrate compassion, leadership and integrity in ways that create indelible imprints of who you are and what you stand for.
As is abundantly evident, the consumer is experiencing helplessness and pressure and there is immense opportunity in acknowledging, addressing and solving for these unforeseen circumstances. It is also clear that our old beliefs have been disrupted. We are seeing that the emergence of a multitude of factors from social isolation to the economic hit are actively reshaping our minds, leading to NEW FORMATIONs or MENTAL MODELs that we use to navigate our current realities in the near term.
We see the emergence of 9 distinct mental models (listed below) that could be defined as value and behaviour formations that are an outcome of the crisis experience. And the opportunity is to powerfully address these mental models and deliver unprecedented value to consumers, in a manner that is uniquely deliverable by your category and brand.
1. The Panic Mind – the brain is in fight or flight mode
2. The Distancing mind – the belief is that the ‘other is unsafe’
3. The Victim Mind – ‘Poor me/ why me?’ is the sentiment
4. The Infantilized Mind – where the mind is seeking directions on what to do
5. The Imprisoned Mind – the mind is experiencing stagnation and monotony
6. The Deprived Mind – the mind feels starved of connections and sensations
7. The Worrying Mind – a state of sustained apprehension and unease
8. The Introspective Mind – there is reflection and thoughts of what matters most
9. The Self-Sufficient Mind – the mind seeks no dependency
This framework enables you to take a HUMANISTIC VIEW OF THE SITUATON, even while developing a longer-term business vision that is rooted in delivering value to consumers in memorable and impactful ways.
Because as organisations and brands, we have the power to ADAPT AND MOULD OURSELVES to address and solve some of the biggest problems that humanity faces currently.
And more than ever, it is time for owners of businesses and brands to think, innovate and invent to create the new world order…for 2020 and beyond.
The author is partner, Quantum Consumer Solutions