Marketers Must Practice Empathy, Now More Than Ever
Over the past two months, consumer culture as we know it has seen a seismic shift in nearly every conceivable way. As we face stay-at-home orders and quarantines, we’re now fully immersed in the new culture of staying healthy and practicing mindful empathy toward each other. And along with consumers, brands are formulating their own plans to remain as healthy as possible while weathering the storm.
For most consumers, the travel bans and office closures has lead to a hike in online activity and an increased appetite for digital engagement. Brands’ reactions and interactions at this time will be especially important in instilling consumer confidence.
The most successful marketers understand that empathy goes beyond the language or tone of a message. It’s a larger concept that also means ensuring customers can be reached when and where they are in their life and buyer’s journey. It’s about offering a level of comfort and familiarity, and showing that whatever consumers need is still available for them.
Anticipate Shifts in Customer Behavior
Changes in a customer’s buying habits can typically be measured over months or longer. Now, it’s something that seemingly can be measured in hours and days. Things consumers are purchasing and the channels they are purchasing in are rapidly changing. Being able to adapt equally quickly and continue to reach them as they shift in channel use — and shift significantly toward digital channels — will bring success in the near term.
And while focusing on the rapidly evolving present, it’s important not to lose sight of anticipating their needs in the longer term. Being able to segment consumers by location, demographics, behaviors, lifestyles, or media usage enables the tailoring of personalized messaging for each segment to make relevant offers now and well into the future.
Prepare to Provide Value Now and Later
The status quo has changed in a major way and the ramifications will be felt for a long time. However, brands and marketers must carry on in order to be prepared to come out the other side. They should focus on the here and now by understanding their consumers and providing them the value and empathy they need in uncertain times. But they also must keep an eye toward the future when consumers return to a new normal.
There is likely to be an unprecedented level of pent-up demand in nearly every industry. Brands that take inventory of that oncoming demand and what is around the corner, by knowing who their consumers are as well as their needs, will be in a position to thrive. And by remaining empathetic, informative and consistent, even in a chaotic time, they’ll maintain and build consumer confidence well into the future.
Infutor CMO Dave Dague is an identity resolution, consumer identity, verification and marketing solutions thought leader. A 25-year veteran of the information services and analytics industry, Dave has previously served as CMO for Gravy Analytics, Neustar and TargusInfo. Dave has also served as an adjunct professor of Marketing and Sales Management at the undergraduate level.