COVID19 – Impact on Business
The changing face of Consumerism & the emergence of the Social Brand
It’s an accepted fact that the Corona Pandemic will transform the world as we know it and we might never return to life as it was. For the first time in history, we are not in a situation where change is coming—it’s already here. And Brands will face the impact of this change more quickly than any others.
I have always told brand owners & entrepreneurs that the world is constantly changing and that they need to change with it — or be left behind, as new competitors will emerge from new products or technologies and will lead to new consumer needs. But no one could have ever imagined how fast and powerful these changes would become with Corona Pandemic.
Where we were once consumers, we are now connectors and protectors. We are worried about and in constant communication with our loved ones; we fear for their health and for their emotional well-being. The chatter on the social media channels is all about the protection of our communities, the sustainability of our families’ abilities to support ourselves and ultimately the greater good.
I believe that March 2020 marks the end of consumerism as we’ve come to know it. Today we become aware through the pervasive spread of this virus just how strong our individual actions can be. That staying home is an effort in saving lives. Once we emerge from this, think about transferring that notion to buying power. Imagine the power of individual action, and the strength it gives every single rupee spent.
What does this mean for brands? It means that they just got a new competitor: the community.
Brands need to embrace this and react to what consumers will be asking themselves:
- Why am I spending this money?
- Who am I spending it with?
- And, what greater good will it serve?
Only then will any loyalty be gained in this new dawn of consumerism.
So what do Brands need to do ; being empathetic is one and evolving into an emotional brand rather than pragmatic one is the key here.
Social Branding looks at a company’s commitment, communications, connectivity and creativity in the following areas:
Sustainability – What is your position on green practices? How is this communicated? What do your clients and customers expect from you? Where will this be in the next 10 to 20 years?
Communication – Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Blogs, etc. We are in a world where there is a true distribution of knowledge, advice, and shared experiences. Consumers are favouring relationships rather than advertising. What is your company’s social media strategy and goals? Where and how are you playing in this transparent, consumer-driven world?
Community – As consumers simplify their lives and desire a back-to-basic approach, local community involvement is essential for companies brand equity and loyalty. Demands are shifting from supporting large national or global efforts to supporting what’s going on in our own backyard. Support includes not only donations but involvement and engagement. Is money secondary to compassion?
Innovation – With the economic down-turn, innovation is at the heart of most business strategies and fostering a culture of innovation is critical to success. Social innovation is an important aspect of Social Branding. As companies are unable to give raises and bonuses, they are looking for intrinsic motivators such as providing the following to their employees: challenges, curiosity, control, competition, helping others grow and achieve goals and, of course, recognition.
Social branding is less about harnessing a differentiator or looking for ways to influence how you are perceived in the marketplace. It is more about “walking the walk” and aligning yourself with what really matters to consumers: taking care of the environment in which we live, being an integral part in our communities, and investing in your employees’ happiness.