Emotionally charged consumers are ready for new experiences
We have been monitoring the emotional impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Americans since March 2020. This has been done by using Forrester’s Consumer Energy Index. Our data-driven framework captures the willingness and readiness of consumers to reach out to brands.
In the first half 2020 , disruptions caused consumers to feel vulnerable, distrust and isolation. The middle of the year saw businesses reopen with sporadic movements and episodes of activism. This rekindled sparks for consumer energy. After September’s contentious US presidential election, the initial vaccination rollout and the promise of a new Year, consumer energy fell to a record low. However, it rebounded to an all-time high.
As the CDC lifts COVID-19 restrictions, and as the largest ever vaccine campaign in history moves forward, consumers are reuniting with their loved ones and returning to their favourite experiences. Our most recent data shows that consumer energy has increased from 43 in December 2020, to 54 by June 2021. This is largely due to consumers’ growing sense of community.
What the Data Means
- After months of isolation, consumers feel a stronger sense of community.Since the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020, consumer energy identity scores have fallen. This is because physical distance drove emotional isolation. Consumers are now more connected to their communities, returning to work with their colleagues and spending time with family and friends, as well as gaining a stronger sense of belonging.
- Trust is more important to consumers than leaders and organizations.Because of the steady rise in skepticism regarding brands, consumer trust levels remained low through much of 2020.IntentionsThe latest 8-point rise in trust means that consumers are more open and receptive to the notion that people and organisations around them have good intentions and can follow through on their promises.
- Consumers are excited and optimistic about new products.Consumers have felt an emotional tug of war between familiarity and novelty throughout the pandemic. Scores of 60 in the “novelty dimension indicate that consumers are excited by the possibility of learning something new, experiencing an adventure, and being entertained.
- Consumers are asserting their power and regaining control.The pandemic struck 16 months ago, when consumers’ sense of control was at its lowest. Consumers are now driven to seek out new tools, resources and solutions to improve the quality of their lives.
What it means for brands: Match consumers’ emotional tone to show you are on their side
- Consider the impact of emotion on your messaging, products, and experiences.Consumer emotions are key to accelerating economic and social recovery. Consumers are excited about new brands, products and experiences, as evidenced by the high level of consumer energy at this moment. The threat of coronavirus variants and hesitation about vaccine compliance as well as residual fear or trauma from 2020’s crises mean that there is still danger.Consumer psyche remains fragile. CMOs who connect with customers in an emotional intelligent wayEmpathetic and compassionateCan ease consumer anxieties and promote optimism for the future.
- Encourage consumers to strengthen their community connections.A third of US adults online say they spend more time thinking about ways they can help their local community. Many consumers project this motivation onto their brand choices. Your brand can be the connector that connects like-minded people as consumers make up for months of isolation by joining their local community groups.
- You can validate consumers’ trust in your company by making your brand promise urgently.As we have written inRecent researchThe confluence between social, cultural and economic disruptions has created a pathway for businesses to become the most trusted entity. Businesses must promise secure and safe relationships to consumers, employees, partners, and customers. Consumer energy also shows that customers give brands permission to play an even greater role in their well-being. Companies must now embrace trust before the competition can secure consumer trust capital.
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