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Customer, Now: We Before Me


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As people increasingly practice gratitude as a function of their interdependency, brands need to do the same. Gratitude is so quickly and easily seen as insincere. But the brands that can demonstrate gratitude—beyond gestures—as actions essential to their business will better match their customers’ needs now and in the longer-term.

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Customer, Now: We Before Me

  1. 1. Customer, Now. Episode 4: We Before Me Documenting how lockdown is changing lives, and what those changes mean for brands.
  2. 2. Our clients tell us that customer expectation is mercurial at the best of times – moving faster even than the fastest brands. But now that global lockdown has interrupted life as we knew it, with confinement forcing change in almost every aspect of customers’ lives, it’s harder than ever for brands to stay ahead. Interbrand is working directly with a group of consumers in lockdown, generating insight into what the changes really mean, working in real- time, to help brands stay relevant, and determine what’s next. Through this work we’re uncovering deep human truths and identifying emerging needs and desires that are ripe to unlock new opportunities and paths to growth. Each weekly episode is designed to give our clients the confidence to make decisive moves in this fast-changing situation.
  3. 3. What we’ve seen from consumers
  4. 4. Showing gratitude is said to have very real health and life benefits. And yet, it feels a bit “soft” on the surface. Saying “thank you.” Appreciating others. Acknowledging the positive impact other people have on you. It’s all very feel good stuff. Further, showing gratitude is logically secondary to the primary action someone shows gratitude for, i.e., someone does something kind and THEN someone acknowledges it. By nature, showing gratitude is a return for kindness invested. However, what happens when the return is greater than the investment? When gratitude becomes greater than the primary action? Can gratitude for others overtake self-interest as motivation? We are seeing an interesting human truth emerge through COVID- 19, where gratitude is self-interest. Where people are realizing their self-interest is more than simply connected to others’ wellbeing, but others’ wellbeing is GREATER THAN my own self-interest. I NEED you to keep your distance, wash your hands, not come into work when you’re sick…so that I stay healthy. I NEED you to return to work…so I can go to a restaurant, travel, socialize, etc. This is very meta stuff. But it’s also quite simple: When the quality of my survival is dependent on the quality of yours, I NEED you to do well. I NEED you to be healthy for my health. People are increasingly realizing their impact on others and others’ impact on them. At a rate and global scale never before experienced. Beyond debates of independent vs. collective responsibility, we are seeing an increased recognition of interdependence…for survival. We need each other. Beyond emotional love and belonging, we need each other in an important functional shift to an idea we’ll call “self-reliant interdependency”, i.e., I must do my duty to maximize my own survival, but so must you and you and you to maximize mine (not to mention your own). Individual actions create a greater collective outcome AND a better individual result. When we see our success as a function of others’, we can’t help but show gratitude. To encourage others in my own survival. It’s in our best self-interest to do so: gratitude as motivation; as a way of survival; as a need serving our own interdependent self- interests…by prioritizing others. There is no greater health and life benefit…putting we before me.
  5. 5. Agreed with the statement: ‘The Covid-19 pandemic has made me realize how grateful I am for others in my life.’ 88% Agreed with the statement ‘Covid-19 has taught me how much we all rely on one another’ 83% WHAT WE’RE HEARING FROM CONSUMERS:
  6. 6. WHAT WE’RE HEARING FROM CONSUMERS: “This experience is what we needed to remember that without each other and all aspects of workers, we are nothing.” SACHIN, 41, LONDON
  7. 7. WHAT WE’RE HEARING FROM CONSUMERS: “Everything I rely on to make my life normal is because of countless others. If those people stopped working or became ill, my life would be much worse off and more difficult.” CLARE. 28, CHICAGO (IL)
  8. 8. WHAT WE’RE HEARING FROM CONSUMERS: “It takes so many people to make things happen, and you also realize how peoples jobs are dependent on other people. Many people are out of work because others can’t come interact with their business.” ALFONSINA, 36, SAN ANTONIO (TX)
  9. 9. WHAT WE’RE HEARING FROM CONSUMERS: “I know that we are all interdependent upon one another, but seeing how much others are willing to make sacrifices for those suffering shows me that we cannot make it if we don’t look out for our community.” NADINE, 58, NEW YORK (NY)
  10. 10. WHAT WE’RE HEARING FROM CONSUMERS: “This situation has made me think more about community and how I fit into it instead of being in my own personal bubble” DAVID, 52, SAN FRANCISCO (CA)
  11. 11. What can you do?
  12. 12. Gratitude as the Center of Gravity As people increasingly practice gratitude as a function of their interdependency, brands need to do the same. Traditionally, businesses have demonstrated acts of corporate philanthropy and sustainability, executed as charitable extensions of the business, at best, tied to a brand’s purpose. Moving forward, we see a need and opportunity to build gratitude and interdependency into the business model – making shifts in their business to mirror those of their customers. We offer the following simple framework as a way to understand where and how brands can create more meaningful — and mutually beneficial — exchanges of value with their customers.
  13. 13. MY WORLD: People’s most intimate and connected world NOW: CUSTOMERS A world of introspection (where we’ve been spending A LOT of time recently) and a world of the most meaningful connections to those closest to us. How can brands enter this world to help us adapt to the physical constraints we are experiencing between us and our loved ones. This is the world most guarded, most valuable and one in which people are unwilling to sacrifice their connection to those closest to them. NEXT: BRAND Houseparty, riding a pandemic-driven surge in usage, is trying to strike while the iron is hot: The social video-chat app has lined up Katy Perry, John Legend and over 40 other stars for a three-day livestreaming event this weekend. ‘In the House’ allows users to watch videos for free within the app while chatting with friends. The experience tries to capture that feeling of sitting on the couch for that special show with your family or friends on a Friday night.
  14. 14. OUR WORLD: The world people rely on… increasingly so NOW: CUSTOMERS This is where we see the biggest shift toward elevated levels of interdependence. This world has become much more important to people as they realize how much they depend on others and others depend on them. This is the world where brands may have the biggest and new opportunities to help meet changing needs. However, this will require the biggest shifts for most brands that don’t have gratitude and interdependence built into their business. NEXT: BRAND UK retailer Tesco had 20,000 openings for new workers as a result of surging demand. The business chose to prioritise applications from cabin crew who had lost their jobs as a result of COVID. Uber Eats recognised and rewarded its interdependency with the restaurants on its platform by launching a number of initiatives to support them through the crisis, including: funding in-app marketing; introducing 0% Service Fee for all Pickup orders and improving cash flow by enabling daily payments.
  15. 15. THE WORLD: The world people see happening around them NOW: CUSTOMERS It is the greater context in which people live and where people also have the least control. While this world is the biggest stage, it is where the biggest gaffes can be made. This is where the Marketing Machines of the past will have the biggest difficulty adapting to the changes happening with their customers in “our world” and “my world.” NEXT: BRAND COVID could prove fatal to as many as 9 percent of SMEs in Germany. To protect hitherto healthy German companies, including SMEs, from ruin and prevent a domino effect on supply chains and consumers, Allianz’s trade credit insurer Euler Hermes has joined up with Germany’s federal government and the German Insurance Association to backstop losses of 30 billion euros for trade credit insurers this year to cover payment defaults by clients of German companies. Euler Hermes and the other participating insurers will transfer 65 percent of their premium income to the government, in addition to covering losses of up to 500 million euros and all default risks exceeding the 30 billion euros of the government guarantees.
  16. 16. Brands need to be thinking about how they show up in all three of these worlds – consistently and yet adapted to the context of each. Gratitude provides a center of gravity for brands in all three worlds. However, practicing gratitude is where brands arguably have the least experience and face the biggest challenges. Gratitude is so quickly and easily seen as insincere. But the brands that can demonstrate gratitude – beyond gestures – as actions essential to their business will better match their customers’ needs now and in the longer-term.
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