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How 2020 Changed The Brand Experience Forever

How 2020 Changed The Brand Experience Forever

By Jessy SmulskiOct 29 /2020

Our population currently faces four large-scale crises — all happening at the same time:

  1. A global pandemic on the brink of its third spike in cases
  2. An unstable economy costing more than 50 million Americans their jobs
  3. The declaration of a global climate emergency
  4. The largest racial justice movement since the 1960s

Without question, these crises have permanently altered the expectations people set for leaders, influencers and each other. Brands at a loss for how to design an experience that meets these new expectations need only understand one thing: people are desperate for something to feel good about. With that in mind, here are four changes impacting the brand experience.

Affordability and Availability Have Replaced Brand Loyalty

As manufacturers struggle to get the materials they need to fill orders and distributors grapple with sparse inventories, customers have no choice but to take what they can get when they can get it. Case-in-point, hand sanitizer that reeks of tequila.

Furthermore, with unemployment still holding strong at 7.9% and the COVID death toll well over 200,000, circumstances have changed for many families, in some cases, dramatically. Shopping for price over preference is a means of survival that brands need to consider when adapting brand experiences for the year ahead. Rather than focusing on why something is worth the price, efforts should focus on how to make valuable resources more available and affordable.

Social Responsibility Is Your Brand’s Responsibility.

Over 70% of consumers believe that brands with clout are morally obligated to address social injustices. Furthermore, in a recent survey conducted by GlobalWebIndex, 84% of customers expect brands to take some form of action in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The new brand experience that consumers seek is one driven by activism. As such, organizations should brainstorm ways to use their platform to provide an avenue for consumers to impact positive change.

Consumers Want Brands To Put Boots On The Ground

Money helps, but it cannot solve our problems as a society or a nation. While monetary donations are still viewed as a powerful gesture of goodwill and community support, consumers want effort at a local level. Here are just a few of the many unique examples of brands doing this successfully:

  • U-HAUL provided free trucks and storage to tens of thousands of college students in local communities after COVID forced them to move off-campus.
  • Ford rolled out their “Built to Lend a Hand” program, which encouraged local dealerships to provide credit and payment relief on car loans. Ford even went so far as to foot the bill, up to three months, for those hardest-hit by the economic downturn.
  • H&M donated its entire supply chain to manufacture and distribute personal protective equipment to underserved hospitals and medical centers.

Consumers Want a Brand Experience That Comforts Their Vulnerabilities

Above all else, consumers want experiences that help them feel safe. If brands are to create that experience, they need to understand the new emotional needs of the consumer, which include:

  • The need to see themselves as good decision-makers
  • The need to believe that they are smart, thrifty shoppers
  • The need to feel capable of taking care of themselves
  • The need to maintain a sense of control

Meeting Your Customers’ Needs

Ultimately, the most successful brands will be those who put just as much effort into delivering quality products or services as they do acting as great partners to their customers. To that end, it’s time that brands reframe their line of thinking. What new customer need is your brand failing to address and how can your product or service better align with the customer’s new normal?

Learn more about how to support customers in crisis.

Digital Branding

Jessy Smulski
The Author

Jessy Smulski

Jessy turns everyday industry talk into simple, insightful, humanized conversation. Often described as bold, empathetic and charmingly sarcastic; her writing style reflects her personality and reads like a friend telling stories over supper. When she isn’t writing, you can find Jessy backpacking the Midwest, snowboarding the Rockies, or capturing life through the lens of her camera.
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