Forget capturing mindshare. It’s Time for Brands to Start Delivering to Customers

Did you find it difficult to choose what to wear today? Or what should I eat for breakfast? If so, you are not alone. according to American Psychology Association32% of adults are so stressed that they struggle to make everyday decisions.

A lot has changed in the last two years. From hoarding and unprecedented DIY projects to supply chain disruptions and mass unemployment, to social unrest and great resignations, the pandemic has changed our outlook in many ways. The issue of mental space existed long before the COVID-19 hit, but the flood of events over the past two years has made it even more challenging for people.

As the APA study indicates, a large number of us have less headspace available than before the pandemic. It’s a significant change, and one that prompts deeper questions for those major brands. Perhaps it’s time to declare a ceasefire in the decades-long battle of mindshare and find a new way for brands to be relevant to people’s lives.

moving beyond mindshare

First and foremost, Edland’s old tropes need to be radically changed. It was back in 198o that Al Rees and Jack Trout urged brands to seize mindshares. his book, Positioning: The Battle for Your MindFamously argued that a key measure of success was top-of-mind among consumers, occupying more space in people’s minds than competitors.

The text set the scene for the past four decades of marketing, in which brands position themselves to conquer the mind and see it not as the mind of the people, but merely as “possibilities”. Today, the world feels very different, as consumers have no brains to give—let alone hold on to brands.

Some companies recognize this and are adopting it. Nike, as is often the case, leads the way for others. Last November, it launched its program Mind Sets, which expanded the brand’s focus from physical achievement to include mental health. It’s a belief that even athletes like Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka and Ben Simmons don’t think they “just can” today.

It’s not only Nike that is increasingly alert to this cultural shift. Walk into any UK retailer Selfridge’s outlet at 10 a.m. on a Wednesday and there will be no in-store music, fewer screens, and people enjoying the quieter shopping hours it recently introduced. Originally conceived for people on the autism spectrum, the goal of the initiative now goes further: to provide a quiet environment for shoppers and space for reflection and relaxation for team members.

negotiating a transaction

It’s about more than the messaging though. The very basics of commerce have changed. There is no new normal, and consumers are not interested in returning to the status quo. Moving through the post-pandemic period, we now navigate massive polarization and greater collective awareness of social issues. This existential struggle has prompted many to completely rethink the way forward.

This is well documented in Brit Ray’s recent book, Generational Dread: Finding Purpose in the Age of Climate Crisis, She shows how eco-anxiety results in burns, escapes, or disturbances in daily functioning. For the most part, people are combating this by becoming more selective and more deliberate in their consumption choices.

Brands and businesses don’t sit out of cultural shocks: they must respond to them. In fact, they are subject to ever-increasing consumer expectations more than ever. The pandemic triggered an already ongoing technological metamorphosis. according to a McKinsey StudyOver the course of eight weeks, people embraced as many new forms of digital communication as we would expect to see in seven years. Driven by the pandemic, US hotels alone increased the installation and implementation of self-service and contactless kiosks and mobile check-in by 66%.

Where brands used to focus on human interaction and real-time, engaging responses, they must now offer platforms that can deliver personalized agency and customized human experiences. Automate simple, repeatable elements of the experience every step of the way, but also find new ways to connect with people in real time. Allow them to check in at the hotel on their phone, but maybe have someone call their room to make sure they have everything they need for a stay.

cultural alignment

In many cases, a change in organizational mindset will need to be deepened even further. Where brands add value to our lives has changed radically. Thirty years ago, people would have welcomed noise from brands—up to a point. From a suggestive and conflicting suite of print ads for United Colors of Benetton, which included faces of prisoners sentenced to death Video for tango orange man slapping people, it was shamelessly in-your-face marketing time. But this is 2022, not 1992. Time has changed.

It doesn’t mean that brands can’t play a role in our lives. It’s more that they need to make sure they are relevant there. And in many cases, it’s about meaningfully aligning a brand’s ethos with the culture.

Today’s brand makers can take note from the likes of Ben & Jerry’s. Amidst the materialism of the ’80s, the brand chose to move beyond ice cream itself and labeled itself as a “social justice company that sells ice cream to be able to promote its advocacy work.” Today, the brand continues to interact meaningfully with campaigns such as “Silence is not an option” in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

In recent years, others have joined in. Dove’s campaign for true beauty was revolutionary, using bodies of all shapes and sizes in their marketing, paving the way for a new set of inclusive female representations, from plus-size models to Lizzo, to arguably inclusive beauty. One of the most recognizable faces of Crayola’s “What If?” Positioning emphasizes the importance of imagination over product to inspire the next generation of creatives and individuals. The key to all of this is to make sure it’s done in a way that feels authentic. Especially today, consumers have become very wary and critical of greenwashing or worse, empty statements that are not backed by real action.

Advertising by advertising, brand by brand, day by day, the conservatism of occupying mindshare is giving way to allowing mental space. We’re seeing audiences become independent and less pressured to buy specific products, and are instead becoming more aware of the brand’s purpose and goals – and that’s what creates true brand loyalty in 2022 .

Brian Goodpastor is Vice President of Vision and Cultural Strategy at Global Brand Design and Experience Agency scar,

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