How consumers’ creativity has been unleashed and has impacted all kinds of business during the great lockdown of COVID-19.
The Great Lockdown- such an unprecedented event that happened just as we started moving forward with our 2020 goals. There has been so much speculation for COVID 19 and its consequences, lockdown, and repercussions, but there has also been one thing that kept us all rolling. The human mindset! With constraints come new creative ideas.
Our imagination, creativity, and innovation take us far away from stagnation, depression, or pessimism. According to Nielson India, there was a 44% rise in social media usage during the lockdown. There was a 72% increase in ad content by influencers (thedrum.com).
Some brands did tap on this talent outburst organizing a showcase for their customers, getting their attention, or even loyalty. As we move past lockdown, the question is, should we just let this bubbling creativity disappear or nurture it?
Also, with salary slashes and lay-offs, people will delay their purchases or disconnect from buying loads. As brand strategists, how do we continue to connect with our consumers and keep them motivated?
The lockdown made all of us Pause… Ponder… and find our Passion. What a bizarre way of Mother Earth to push all of us back into our dens and make us realize that we have sufficient material comforts to meet our physiological needs. But we are missing something basic- our connection with ourselves and Nature.
Running in the race of climbing up the ladder, acquiring more, selling more, or aspiring mostly in terms of materialistic gains, suddenly, COVID 19 came to put brakes on all of it. And the whole of humanity was stirred to its core. The first time in global history, nothing was left to be done except for reflecting from within!
The Himalayan peaks started showing from many cities around, twittering birds were heard, and the herds of deer came in the urban areas. Perhaps it was a sincere greeting from Nature with her deepest expression- a request to humans to learn to co-exist!
Simultaneously, humans were beautifully engaged with their creative expressions- cooking to crafts, music to art, sports to exercise, prose to poetry, make-up to drama, photos to videos, learning to loving, and sharing to caring. They bought bare essentials- and they were happy!
Without the brands pushing happiness to them! They candidly shared their no filter, no grooming, and no make-up looks doing their own messy chores (with pride). They thrived on exploring and stretching their own limits with the given limitations. In the lockdown, they unlocked their own potential! And they celebrated themselves.
The question that gapes now is whether we will imbibe this message from Nature and Humanity as marketers and brand strategists. And look at it as a huge opportunity for the next big change? Or will we continue back with our conventional ways- by pushing products, making more sales, and focus only on profitability?
With the looming pressure of gaps created from the lockdown, the worries around the economy, and recession, it definitely may not be the top priority. But in due course, could we strive to help the new species of humans, who have finally discovered themselves beyond capitalism, stay that way?
Is that the new learning curve for all of us? For many of us, these questions may put as at the crossroads. But some clever brands have already taken a plunge in that direction- where people and planet, both are nurtured.
According to Thomas Kolster, self-actualization is the next best thing for brands to look at (Source: Book- The Hero Trap). As a matter of fact, he brings organizations’ attention to people’s urge, i.e., to fulfill themselves- through sports, art, work, or whatever helps them ‘become.’
There are now many big-league brands empowering their customers with their choice of creativity and their own goals. And many start-ups are evolving around the lifestyle that people want, helping them achieve their goals. Coaching, motivation, expert advice is something that people plugin into.
Thanks to the big and thick data analytics, which helps dig deeper into people’s choices and behavior. The economy is now all about ‘style overstuff,’ and style is no longer that outward flashiness of possessions sharpening society’s divide. But a reflection of the inner journey and the outward experience; that accomplishes oneself as a distinct individual while nurturing other people and the planet.
These trends are all towards a circular, shared, and sufficiency economy. People connect more with the icons like Milind Soman (supermodel and tri-athlete from India), who re-invented not just themselves but empowered many more around, especially those who are often dismissed by society.
Motivation and giving DIY wings are nothing new for the brands. From the US to India, I have observed many engaging experiences that start from choosing my own toppings to buying from Marketplace with a straight order to cook, the DIY meal kits, or just walking into a studio to paint.
Experiential consumption is anyways on the rise and good for both- people and the planet. Thomas (popularly known as Mr. Goodvertising) also advocates in his new book for facilitating the transformational journey even for societal and environmental purposes. This can take the load off from brands to be the superheroes and getting trapped with the unreliability as every brand seems to be in the race of purpose.
In the age of disruptive media, the marketing mix finds a tremendous scope in influencers. From the #MeToo movement to #Climateaction by Greta Thunberg, or from Sonu Sood for the #IndianMigrantWorkers crisis to George Floyd #BlackLivesMatter #WorldAgainstRacism; the power of expression and storytelling is with the common individuals and the masses. As brand engineers, we may need to notice that transfer of power, steer along, and cheer them.