This is no ordinary time; we get it. Whatever plans you had for your brand in 2020 have likely been thrown into disarray as your team works tirelessly to combat the economic and social effects of a global health crisis. And while no one quite knows what the other side of this pandemic will look like, there is one thing we can expect: change.
This crisis will change the way consumers think and behave. It will change the way they engage with brands. It will inevitably change the values that guide buying decisions, as many deal with sudden financial, social and emotional disruption.
Brands seeking to maintain relevance with consumers will need to change, too. But make no mistake: the enormity of this event means many of the these shifts in consumer values will be permanent. Required adaptations extend far beyond short-term content strategies to include the fundamental positioning of products and services. Brands will need to recalibrate what they stand for and deliver new experiences that address the evolving needs of their core customers.
To help marketers adapt in response to the effects of COVID-19, Hart has developed guidelines for critical thinking and action that examine potential shifts in consumer values and the ways brands can address them authentically.
Before deciding what to do next, we encourage you to consider these four questions.
1. Which values are most important to my brand’s primary audiences?
Consumers naturally segment themselves based on the values that drive their behavior. While it’s true that no two people are exactly the same, it’s likely you’ll find consistencies in the values exhibited by your core customers. Consider your primary audiences:
What’s most important to them? How do their values shape their behavior and mindset?
How do those values influence the relationship they’ve built with your brand over time?
Take action: Revisit core audience personas, examine past and secondary research and analyze the values most aligned with your customer’s buying journey.
2. How have those values evolved in response to the global pandemic?
It’s natural for people’s values to evolve throughout their lives, but the stress and anxiety that come with a global health crisis can catalyze change much more quickly than many anticipate.
How might your audience’s priorities change in response to their new social, emotional or financial situation?
How might that affect the values that drive their behavior moving forward?
Take action: Execute quick-turn research initiatives right now to understand how the crisis is affecting your audiences and avoid being behind when the world resets.
3. How can my brand adapt to address the changing values of our audience?
As consumers’ values evolve, so do the relationships they have with your brand. The brand values and attributes that once resonated with your target audience may not feel as relevant under new circumstances.
How can your brand address the new and emerging needs of your customers?
What value are they looking for your brand to deliver moving forward?
Take action: Revise brand positioning and reestablish brand values to address the evolving mindset of your core customers.
4. What types of experiences can my brand create to reflect those values more strongly?
Consumers are smart. And the current health crisis is likely to make them even more discerning in their evaluation of brands moving forward. They’ll pay little attention to what brands say, focusing instead on what they do.
What experiences can your brand create to address your audience’s evolving values?
What solutions can you deliver that might resonate, given their new perspective?
Take action: Evaluate how your new positioning, reflective of changing consumer values, could impact all aspects of your brand experience and strategy.
Times are uncertain, and we understand the pressure that comes with navigating a brand through uncharted territory. We hope you take this time to reflect on the relationships you’ve built with your core customers. Even more so, that you embrace the evolution to come, preparing your brand to emerge stronger on the other side.
If you’re looking for a partner to help guide your brand through times of change, Hart’s strategists are here and willing to help. To learn how our market research audit or rapid brand development process can help yours stay ahead of the curve, contact us.