Business leaders are watching the initial results from store openings very closely. Once the excitement subsides – if it can even be fully ignited – how will consumers choose to spend their money?
There are new key drivers at play for consumers emerging from lockdown. They will be extremely selective in the brands they choose to buy from, and a consideration of brand values such as a commitment to sustainability, corporate responsibility and a demonstration of diversity at the most senior levels will influence their spending. It’ll be a real survival of the fittest for brands.
We’ve been advising brands on how they can use these key drivers to fortify their plans and create a roadmap to navigate the post-Covid landscape. Here, we explore the importance of authentic and meaningful brand values.
Brand Values are Changing
Where once, association with a brand could represent social status or wealth, Gen Z are spearheading a seismic shift towards association with brands for their ethics and values. And in a climate where consumers feel better represented by the brands they purchase from than the politicians they elect, we find brands entrusted with matters of social, cultural, and environmental significance.
Add to that a global pandemic, where daily life is affected, families separated, and communities devastated, there has been a groundswell of criticism levelled against brands that pay corporate lip service to their consumers, all the while putting profit before people. For the post-pandemic consumer, talk is cheap.
Brands leading with purpose – that is presenting a thoughtfully-articulated message, backed up with appropriate action – can drive positive change, as well as fostering support and loyalty from consumers.
The Impact of #BlackLivesMatter
A famous iteration in recent years of a global corporations taking a bold stance on social injustices is Nike’s endorsement of Colin Kaepernick in their ‘Dream Crazy’ campaign, supporting Kaepernick’s 2016 peaceful protest against police brutality.
Today we find ourselves in regrettably familiar territory. The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police has mobilised consumer sentiment globally, and opened broader commentary on brands offering performative or superficial support, without actual inclusive corporate practices behind the scenes.
The high-profile resignations of Yael Afalo, founder of Reformation, Christene Barbarich, co-founder of Refinery29, and Audrey Gelmen, co-founder of The Wing – all of whom vocalised support for the Black Lives Matter movement before stories of racial discrimination from former employees surfaced – have shown that empty words, or worse, the exploitation of social issues for commercial gain, will now come to light.
Even Nike, so revered for that Emmy-winning 2018 campaign is today amongst those lambasted for superficial support – the company has an all-white board. As brand consultant Mark Ritson put it: ‘One black board member is worth 1,000 Black Lives Matter tweets.’
How can Brands Pivot with Meaning?
So how can brands get it right? Before shoehorning their messaging to fit current rhetoric, brands need to take a step back to consider or even reconsider their core values.
At our Fashion & Lifestyle Trend Innovation Agency, we have been helping brands align their values not only to current consumer mindsets, but to what our insights and foresights predict to be the consumer mindsets of tomorrow. Our support has allowed brands to anticipate future consumer mindsets and behaviour and be prepared for even unprecedented events, which are set to only increase as the decade unfolds.
Our work is focused on particularly the young consumer groups to help brands anticipate and understand new audiences and how to engage and dialogue with them.
Our solution is to help brands pivot in a holistic way across consumer, brand, product, communications & experience to create a truly authentic brand experience.
The following case study delves deeper into how we do this.
A Case Study: Pivoting with Purpose
A global lifestyle brand came to us with this problem: they were out of touch with younger Millennial and Gen Z consumers.
Their apparel brand had grown old along with their customer base, and their brand language, positioning, products, communications and the brand experience didn’t resonate with younger consumers.
We approached the project holistically, helping the brand realign their values to consumers’ future needs, and then reposition their brand image. This was followed by a product elevation in line with both their core and younger audiences’ future wants and needs. The process was finished by a communications and storytelling overhaul where the teams know exactly how to plan and construct communications that will resonate with the target audiences future interests.
We also discussed some challenging internal issues in an open and honest way, such as the public image their all white, all male board may provoke in the consumer. Luckily for this company, we had this conversation with them two years ago, and they have managed to make some positive changes.
We are pleased to report that the brand has gained over a 300% sales growth across the collection we worked with them on in its first season, with further progress to come!
Next Steps: Your Complimentary Strategy Session
If you would like to explore how we could help you, we have an exciting limited opportunity for a few selected businesses to join us for a complimentary Post-Covid Breakthrough Strategy Session.
In this 45-minute online session with our senior trend experts, we determine how likely your brand, product, and/or communications will be to resonate with consumers in the future, or with new target audiences you wish to attract.
The aim of the 45-minute Brand Strategy Session is to:
- Identify whether your brand values resonate with the post-covid consumer
- Discuss a clear vision for your seasonal product range strategy
- Explore the ways in which you currently engage target consumers
- Uncover hidden challenges that may be hindering your seasonal success
- Formulate actionable steps for improving internal processes