Moving forward, after the storm shall pass and the dust settles, brands will have a lot of explaining to do...
In a recent article on Medium, mega brands have been accused of “gas lighting”, in other words- selling an illusion that will now be revealed:
For many years this has been the case: Brands spent millions of dollars telling consumers what they need and want, and urging them to buy it now.
But now the game has changed. People are awake, mega brands are falling, and after this pandemic, nothing will ever be the same again.
Consumers PTSD is real. As humans, we will all have PTSD: Fear of touching, fear of traveling, fear of gathering, fear of people. And this fear is not going to go away any time soon, regardless of government suggestions and political views.
As consumers, people will have fear of products production and delivery process, of retail stores, people at POS, of mass gatherings, and more than anything - trust issues in mega brands forcing them and pushing them to buy, after experiencing loss of income, loss of work and an economic collapse.
For brands to truly step up and lead during this time and with consumers PTSD in mind, they must connect with people as people first. Not consumers.
Have real, open, conversations with their community. Connect with people emotionally, humanely, on a personal level. Address their fears. Help them heal.
Pushing incentives and deals will not do it - proof to that are the extreme deals offered by every possible company right now, being ignored every single time. Because now and moving forward, consumers- people- don’t care about deals. They care about life. Health. Safety. Family. Love.
Unless brands talk with people humanly and at eye level, they will be left in the dust, unseen.
Mega brands and agencies are now challenged to step outside the boardrooms, take off their stuffy suits, and meet the people, where they are.
This level of human connection will all rely on emotional content creation. Creativity and incentives will not breakthrough the wall consumers have built, yet must be naturally offered.
Brands must become Emotionally Intelligent and truly know the way the mind works. Brands must become a form of therapists to their people. CEOs must step to the front lines and show their emotional and personal side. Ad campaigns must be sensitive to family life, relationships, and economic standing. Fortune 500 companies will be challenged to close the gap between executive decisions made in a boardroom by highly paid people, and the struggling consumers on the streets.
Ad campaigns need to engage people and move them, emotionally, in order to connect.
Neuromarketing: How The brain works in decision making?
Neuromarketing is a commercial marketing communication field that applies neuropsychology to marketing research, studying consumers' sensorimotor, cognitive, and affective response to marketing stimuli.
In survival mode, Fight or flight is an immediate reaction of the body releasing stress hormones and harmful chemicals, though it usually lasts 60 minutes at the most.
When people experience something traumatic and/or have PTSD, they may no longer feel as though the world is a safe place. It may feel as though danger is everywhere. As a result, a person may constantly be in a state of fear and anxiety.
A person with PTSD may experience fear and anxiety when they go out into crowded or cramped places, such as a grocery store or a subway. These situations are not dangerous in the sense that they don't threaten our survival.
Enticing good feelings, increasing serotonin levels is the goal.
So how do we do it?
The simple answer is: Brands must emotionally engage consumers through authentic content creation.
But wait… there is more!
Every COVID-19 Commercial Is Exactly The Same
We also have this - the very clear notion that brands already jumped on the bandwagon of emotionally triggering consumers.
“There’s a lot of sameness in advertising. Perhaps because advertising people are very mobile and move from agency to agency. Or because they are influenced by the same award shows. Sameness has been a problem for a while and one of the reasons for the decline on Madison Avenue. At times, and especially in recent years since the last recession, it seems that agencies have all lost the desire the innovate and the courage to stand apart.” Says Avi Dan, in his article for Forbes Every COVID-19 Commercial Is Exactly The Same
With that in mind, brands need to make sure they remain creatively unique enough, so the message of human connection doesn’t come off as “fake”.
People are noticing that most mega brands are using the same ad copy and visual in ads, and it comes off un-authentic.
So how do we create authentic, real and raw engaging content?
Instead of blasting the media with inspirational quotes and what seems to be empty promises, showcase employees personal stories, how they are dealing with the situation. Family stories. Bring the CEOs to the front, ask the people how they feel, how you can help them, what they need from you…instead of telling them “we are in this together” ask them how you can be there for them. Ask and fulfill.
Two sided conversations is what we need right now. That’s what a relationship is based on - not a high and mighty “brand figure” saying it will be ok.
It will be interesting to watch the process of brands humanization.
It already naturally happened, as we closed office doors and moved all operations online. Large agencies and brands were forced into a virtual work space.
This transition made many CEOs realize that working from home can be as, if not more, productive. Facebook, Twitter and Google CEO’s already acknowledges the transition. Others will follow.
Pre-Covid19 the prediction was that by 2027 over 50% of the workforce will be virtual. Post-Covid19 these percentages will rise tremendously.
Society as we know it is re-formating to a virtual world, and Covid just gave this transition a boost.
As brick and mortar shops are dying and online mega brands continue to rise, virtualization is not a possibility - it’s already happening. This is good news for both brands and consumers. As brands will be able to open their gates to the worlds and consumers will be able to access solutions and products from everywhere.
But off course, loyalty will be for brands and products made in America moving forward.
After all, consumer PTSD may have just shifted us to a more humanized, emotionally engaging, authentic and interactive engagement. Understanding it this way, will help us all heal and recover.