For the last decade marketing professionals and strategists have predicted that consumer trends will develop based around three key pillars; psychology, philosophy and philanthropy. With digital communications leaving the consumer in control of around two-thirds of our marketing efforts, we no longer control how the consumer comes across companies. User-generated content, reviews and pier-to-pier marketing are placed at the forefront of their purchase decisions.
“In order for brands to succeed, we must tap into trust and create meaningful customer interactions.” Araminta Sheridan, founder of Araminta Marketing, Let’s Get Men Talking and co-founder at The Y Code
COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter movements have rapidly accelerated the aforementioned trends providing people with a new level of consciousness and thoughtfulness. Consumers have taken to social media platforms to provide themselves and others with a fast track education surrounding their own self-awareness. In the same breath, they have called out companies to make immediate and considered changes giving many of them a second chance to redeem themselves of any unwittingly ignorant contributions of alienating entire segments of society.
Faking it will not cut it
The brand owners who jumped to “How can I help?” rather than “How can I sell?” when strategising at the start of COVID-19 have created a lasting impact on their target audience as well as increased engagement. We saw social media come back to life with an uplift of video and Livestream content. If this wasn’t proof enough, Business of Fashion and other industry publications shared content championing black-owned businesses as the Black Live Matter movement came to the centre of the worlds attention. This particular Instagram post received 35.2k likes and 2,414 comments, a 95% increase compared to the comments on their previous post. At the same times, accounts such as ‘Influencers in the Wild’ shamed influencers who saw Black Lives Matter protests as opportunities to ‘create cool content’. Companies, brands and freelancers are being held accountable for their actions.
This will not stop here
Social media movements and conscious content creation are the minimum expectation of companies. They have to live and breath positive social change. Space NK is an example of a company who have promised to only display testers from brands who designed their stands to include every shade. Company values, product design and marketing strategies are (quite rightly) set to change. When social moments evolve to look beyond visual inclusivity towards physical and mental differences, physical store design will change to include those who think or move differently. Can your counters and products be viewed by someone in a wheelchair? Does your board of directors include someone who can’t hear, see or someone with autism? Are you really listening yet? Are you really making the effort to see through the eyes of people who will add genuine value to your offering? We must all take a leaf out of Apples book in this sense.
When companies learn the meaning of thoughtfulness, they will become truly kind. Only then will consumers trade long-term loyalty for meaningful social change.