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Socially conscious consumers seek likeminded brands

With so much uncertainty in the world today, people are scrutinising where they spend their money now, more than ever. People are becoming more attuned to inauthentic marketing messages that don’t match their own values. It’s the perfect marketing storm.

Lots of people I talk to at work are asking some version of the following the same question: ‘how will COVID-19 impact the way that we interact with our customers, both now and in the longer term?’

As humans, we are uncomfortable working in an environment of uncertainty. And many of us currently face significant uncertainty in terms of our health, the wellbeing of our families and our household finances. For some, this uncertainty brings a unique opportunity to think a bit differently about how we run our businesses, and about how we think about our customers.

Deloitte Digital explored these challenges and opportunities in our recent study sampling 2,140 UK adults between 22 and 26 May on their interactions with brands and their customer experience during lockdown.

Lockdown exacerbates existing consumer trends

From that research a few insights have emerged that can begin to unpick the questions around how we all interact. Firstly, 28% of survey respondents said that they plan to spend less money after lockdown than before. It’s clear that the lockdown has heightened what we have long known to be true, that for many Britons it takes only a small unexpected financial disruption to put their budgets in peril. Even with the UK government’s furlough scheme and other types of support, people are actively preparing for longer term uncertainty, and are thinking differently about spending versus saving.

People tuning out inauthentic marketing messages

We also know that customers are increasingly wary of marketing messages, and we’ve seen a large number of consumers (44% of our survey respondents) say that they have opted out of marketing messages during lockdown. I have also heard from a lot of confused marketers asking questions like ‘how can we send messages to our customers that demonstrate that we want to help, but don’t look like we’re trying to profit from this crisis?’

The perfect marketing storm

These two complications, people spending less, and being more difficult to reach with marketing messages, is a perfect storm of a marketing challenge. So, how do we cut through?

The socially conscious consumer

One area for optimism is that survey respondents are looking a bit harder at the social conscience or purpose of the brands they interact with and rewarding those who meet their expectations. The other side of that, of course, is that they are likely to punish those brands that display less social conscience or purpose.

Consumers reward brands that kept their staff safe during lockdown

Our survey results show that 62% of customers said that they are more likely to spend with companies who have taken extra steps to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their employees during lockdown.

One in five respondents has stopped using services or buying goods because of a brand’s response to COVID-19. For example, the business that refused to prioritise front-line workers or failed to ensure the safety of their employees during lockdown. This means that brands who have been talking about working with ‘purpose’ in mind are now being scrutinised to see how well they are doing and seeing if they are really walking the walk, or if it is just a lot of talk.

Purpose is more important than ever

What this really means for us all is that peoples aren’t just voting with their feet, they’re voting with their hearts. Brands need to take a good look at themselves and make sure they’re thinking beyond the bottom line and considering the bigger picture of their impact on society writ large. If not, then they run the risk of the socially conscious customers taking their precious pounds elsewhere.

Is your organisation connecting with individuals in ways that speak to their values and goes beyond a homogenous customer experience? To create brand loyalty and drive business growth you need to put the human into digital. Our Future of Experience hub provides insights and perspectives from our team of marketing and experience experts to help you do just that. Take a look at the content here.

If you’d like to chat through any of the points that Becky covers, please get in touch using the contact details below.