As we navigate the changing face of COVID-19, lockdowns become tier systems, and the extent of change in our communities becomes fully realised. With health and financial worries shaping our world, we’re seeing the return of the savvy shopper – a conscious consumer looking more than ever to invest in purposeful purchases. Many well-established brands are struggling to react to this increased consumer awareness, allowing smaller direct-to-consumer brands to fill the void. But as we grapple with the new normal (a term we’re all thoroughly sick of) we’re seeing people invest in products that help aid personal recalibration, and the backing of brands that actively engage a sense of betterment as a core value.
'One of the major drivers coming out of the lockdown period is how we reconsider our homes and the spaces we inhabit most, and what they mean to us as human beings.'
Undoubtedly, ‘brand purpose’ is a marketing buzzword we’ve come to loathe over the years, as it often results in empty brand statements followed by a lack of substantial change. It’s not enough to speak on a subject important to your consumer, you must live it. As Charlotte Goodman, Director of People & Purpose at Virgin Group says ‘Brands need to be alert, transparent and consultative in their approach.’ to find ways of cementing their customer-facing brand pillars into real change within their organisations.
In light of global economic pressures, many worry the strides we saw happen in corporate sustainable and ethical practices will fall by the wayside. However, we’re seeing encouraging signs that consumers are doubling-down on prioritising this as a core value, with ‘6 in 10 customers saying they’d be happy to change their shopping habits to reduce environmental impact’ (source: IBM). This, partnered with financial frugality and a consumer pursuit for individual betterment, has resulted in success for brands that offer experience-led products, as we adjust our social ecosystems to fixate on the home. One of the major drivers coming out of the lockdown period is how we reconsider our homes and the spaces we inhabit most, and what they mean to us as human beings. Our demands of these spaces and how the products we invest in will aid this reconfiguration are going to shape the consumer landscape, and how we shop over the next 3-5 years.
'Only brands with a clear sense of self and reactive customer engagement are cutting through the noise.'
With 46% of Generation Z rating new experiences as one of the three most important things in their lives (source: Boiler Room) it’s no doubt that younger, digitally native generations still feel a yearning to engage with brands on a physical level, and it’s how brands adapt to this sense of connection that will keep them engaged. An area we’re seeing brand agility and adaption of betterment on both sides of the consumer transaction is the Direct to Consumer market. Enjoying significant growth long before we uttered the word Coronavirus, this sector has seen increased activity over the past year. As positive as this is, it’s produced a saturated marketplace and the need for clear alignment with consumer values goes far beyond a slick subscription model and social media following. The rise and fall of some early adaptors in this market have proved that only brands with a clear sense of self and reactive customer engagement are cutting through the noise.
Making purchases purposeful to your brand audience is not only key, but now expected throughout the consumer journey. Circular lines of brand communication are vital, from personalised customer service to extending the letterbox appeal of your product to enhance its place in the home. How well do you know your audience? What’s important to them, and how are you adding value to the product you’re selling? Uzza Skincare, a cosmetics brand championing integrated inclusivity, built a diverse team to live and breathe its commitment to creating minimalist skincare for all skin types. This alignment is mirrored by an online skin diagnosis feature that pinpoints individual skincare needs, adding value to each transaction and successfully demonstrating a circular form of brand purpose to their customers.
Over the next few years, as households recover from the reverberations of COVID-19, we anticipate the role of brands to change dramatically, with an expectation on them to engage and improve our daily lives and needs as human beings. The only way for brands to make purposeful traction will be to rediscover why they matter to people, and how they channel that into every corner of their business.