A Future of Opportunity: Four Predictions of Evolutionary Change in Consumers
“Wise is the one who flavours the future with some salt from the past.” – Curtis Tyrone Jones
The COVID-19 crisis is fueling transformation and consumers and brands have been pushed into a path of evolution. Debates are ensuing around what happens next – will people go back to the old ways? Will a new era emerge out of this crisis?
These questions can only be answered as the truth reveals itself in time. But what we have seen, anthropologically and psychologically, indicates that the impact of the pandemic on our economy and the world as we know it will not be a complete metamorphosis. Consumers will continue to practice some of the new behaviours that they had to adopt in this phase but will also return to some of their old ways. Let's call this an “evolutionary change”.
The Evolutionary Growth Framework for new marketing opportunities
The Evolutionary Growth Framework illustrates the cause behind the changes and the underlying desires of consumers, aiming to help marketers identify "what is going to change" and "what should brands be thinking or doing today, for tomorrow?"
In the Evolutionary Growth framework, we look at the key aspects of consumer-brand connections and engagement – i.e. Relevance and Resonance, along with consumer needs based on their fears, anxiety, hope and desires in the future – i.e. Value and Meaning. We have identified the key spheres of evolutionary change in the consumer and his relationship with the outside world.
These are the four predicted themes of evolutionary change in consumers’ lives:
Identity and intent
From a state of time paucity, consumers have moved to a slower-paced world and whether they are surrounded by family or not, it has been a time to think or at least, consider what really matters. This is visible in some of the pointed and pointless arguments and discussions on social media and elsewhere. There has also been a rise in the hobbies and gaming industry driven by the need to explore and invest in one’s own interests than in the past, which had taken a backseat.
Consumers now have a stronger sense of “who they are” and “what is important to them”. Therefore, brands need to align themselves with the new identity of their consumers by being a lot more focused and shedding the classic greed of being "something for everyone".
“Intent” is about consumers looking beyond the noise to see what the brand really means and stands for, which translates into purpose.
Intimacy and interdependence
In these times, people across the globe sought and established new ways of intimacy and experiencing an interdependence like never before. New tribes of like-minded people are taking form, cutting across boundaries. Brands that create resonance in a distinctive, consistent manner will establish enduring meaning.
Safety and strategies
The concept of resonance is not limited to advertising. When brands combine a deep knowledge of what consumers believe and feel with creating value, it inevitably leads to market success. It is not just brands but women’s organizations around the world that are garnering support for the cause of domestic violence that saw a spike in the COVID-19 lockdown period.
This may entail a change in the ways of working or business models – from agile ways of giving consumers access to products and services to managing supply chains and channel networks. These could be directly around convenience or the overarching need for safety – physical, emotional and financial safety.
Brands are exploring new ways of connecting with consumers on platforms that they are currently using, such as Football beyond borders and Pringles Xbox, instead of creating new ones.
Smart access and security
Brands need to understand the different dimensions of security and access – what do consumers seek today and what do they desire in the future? Technological upgrades in the automotive industry to assure consumers they are secure and safe, like air purifiers or temperature readings for shared-ride services, will be important in the future.
How do you stem potential losses and speed up recovery?
The companies and brands that are emerging as winners out of this phase will be the ones who have gone through the test of value creation with agility, always ahead and pre-empting consumer needs. It is not about creating for the sake of ticking these boxes. Success will come to brands that can deliver to these needs and push the bar higher by providing in the form of experiences that enrich people’s lives not just in the present but beyond, with the lens on a sustainable strategy that guides their brand into the future.
Consumers are evolving, hence to meet them, Marketers, as well as Advertisers, need to put into consideration the four states of evolution the consumers are predicated to go through as a result of the pandemic and other things.
What other evolution phase do you think consumers would most likely go through in the coming years?
Reference: Kantar's Irene Joshy, WARC Trends, June 2020