By Paul Rivait, Director, Social Media & Analytics
A lot of things are going to change in the aftermath of the Coronavirus. As we navigate this new reality, many publications are going to list out all the ways that COVID-19 will alter the landscape of our world. From Health & Science to Tech to the ways that Governments operate, there will be countless predictions about the post-pandemic future. Some of them will be right. Others, painfully wrong. But there is one thing that we think will be one of the biggest changes of all, especially for brands: It’s called Purpose.
A renewed focus on community
We have spent the better part of the last century focused entirely on ourselves. As consumers, we consistently look for the best deal; the most savings. What do I get as a free gift? How much do I save on purchases made in bulk? If I buy two, will you give me the third free? While customers will no doubt continue to look for ways to stay on-budget and save a dollar here and there, the pandemic has taught us something about Community. Supporting local restaurants, shops, and corner stores is important if you want to have a community that thrives. Big box stores can easily swoop in and rid your neighbourhood of all its character if you’re not careful, so spending an extra dollar to buy local is often worth more than the cost. The alternative is saying goodbye to small businesses entirely, and that simply spells disaster. This is something many may not have considered in the past but, when we’re finally able to go outside again, consumers are going to want help rebuild their local communities, which means an increased focus on buying local as well as shunning big corporations who make it their mission to stop small businesses from thriving. If your business isn’t doing something to help the communities in which it exists, you need to start. Everyone is watching.
Closing the health and wellness gap
Consumers have also been watching how businesses have treated their employees during the pandemic. Frontline workers who didn’t get the respect they deserved (in the form of safety equipment and pay increases) will no doubt be shouting that news from the hilltops for a long time to come. And it’s not enough to just hand out free vacations, either. A lot of employees will be suffering from far more dangerous things post-pandemic, in the form of mental health issues. Companies need to have better processes in place that treat their employees’ wellness as a top priority. Working from home for better work-life balance, paid sick days, access to mental health care, and a clear plan in place for how to keep workers safe in the event of another epidemic, are all going to be requirements in consumers’ eyes. The pandemic has exposed a variety of health equity gaps across the globe. Employees shouldn’t have to go in to work sick for fear of not getting paid, or refuse to seek medical treatment because their benefits might not cover it. Employers who refuse to take greater responsibility for their employees’ wellbeing are likely to see boycotts from buyers on the outside and an increase in unions on the inside. It’s time we all start treating employees like people.
Keep the good going
Lastly, while it’s all well and good to give to local charities in need or to help make masks to donate to frontline staff today, infusing a bit of purpose into your business during a pandemic is almost expected. After all, over 60% of consumers surveyed last year said they prefer to purchase from purpose-driven brands, a number that is sure to go up post-pandemic. Brands that jump in to do a bit of good now to benefit off of the emotional response of COVID-19, but then go back to business as usual once we’re through the worst of it, are in for a rude awakening. Consumers are spending a lot of time at home watching the reaction of the world around them and that increased media consumption is an addiction that’s going to be hard to break. They’ll be watching for a long time to come to see how their new world will shape up and will look to both government and business leaders to make bold moves that benefit all. The last thing a brand wants to do is be seen as someone who capitalized off of COVID-19 with a one-time, inauthentic action. Future consumers will be looking to see how brands are going to help communities rebuild and thrive, how they will help employees get back on their feet and grow, and how they plan to make the next version of our world a better one than the last.
If you’re sitting on a bit of extra time between Zoom meetings, now would be a great time to plan how your brand is going to leverage the Power of Purpose. Once the pandemic has passed, it’s gonna be bigger than ever.