Will this become the era of reason?

May 15th 2020

The post-COVID-19 world won’t be the same anymore. The crisis accelerates changes that were already imminent. How should brands adapt to the new mindset and new consumer expectations?

A post-corona world

Many write about it. Few really know about it. But one thing is clear; when this pandemic will be mostly behind us, the world won’t be the same. A world that won’t necessarily be radically different, but one that will have matured through accelerated change.

“Crises have a habit of accelerating changes that were already in train.” - The Guardian, April 7th 2020

Increasingly, digital lifestyles will ask for more on-demand, at-home and next-day-deliveries. The lines between work and leisure will blur even more. Alternative mobility solutions will move from blueprint to execution. Sustainability and local impact will guide our decisions to a greater extent. Wellbeing, health and self-care will become key decision drivers. Travel and leisure will be redefined. Business disruptions will push entrepreneurs to an even faster pace of innovation.

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Consumers in a post-corona world

In this matured world, people will also behave differently. One of the biggest realizations is that this new reality will change for good how people view themselves as part of a larger whole. People will become demanding and selective of everything that has a purpose. And they’ll expect the same from others: the companies they buy from, the people they work for, the brands they interact with. Previously unconscious decisions will now become conscious: deliberate and intentional. New arguments will enter the decision making process. Consumers will start weighing cheap against responsible, convenience against impact, individuality against humanity.

“The coronavirus pandemic marks the end of our romance with market society and hyper-individualism.” Eric Klinenberg - NY University - March 19th 2020

From consumer-centric to reason-centric

It is clear that the unfolding of this COVID-crisis marks the start of a new era in leadership, both in markets and in society. Not so long ago ‘classic’ brand building was based on displaying knowledge, authoritative claims and big branding campaigns. Yes, those days NIKE shouted ‘Just do it!’, and we all accepted. Consumerism didn’t raise too many questions and prosperity had become the norm.

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The world needed a crisis to make brands shift from authority to empathy. A financial one and a big one; a worldwide systemic shock of our banking system led to the crash of major institutions, banks, elites and even countries. What do you need more to display the vulnerability of authority? Brands and organisations started to rediscover authenticity and empathy. From IKEA, via Telenet, to MINI, brands started to live by the rhythm of consumer needs. At the beat of the real life of people. In a two way dialogue, at the side of the consumer and with the rise of digital media as an accelerator.
 
On the face of it, this COVID-19 crisis brings a new type of leadership to the stage. A leadership based on reason and responsibility. Primark or premium? It clearly  is no longer just a price decision. Returning to a travel industry ‘as usual’ or making a jumpstart to sustainable travel? This era of reason raises the stakes. For all of us. Brands, organisations and consumers, because believe it or not:  we are in this together.

 


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15/05/2020
Stéphanie Vercruysse Strategic Director

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