Customers control your future.
They’re the ones who decide if you’re relevant to their needs, as they tighten their belts and choose necessity over discretionary.
They’ll support a business that understands them, empathises, and makes them feel valued. The successful business of tomorrow will demonstrate they care. About their staff, the environment, the community, and of course their customers.
According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, 64% of consumers identified as belief-driven buyers. They will choose or avoid a brand, based on its stand on societal issues.
In the new-normal I believe that number will sky-rocket. Which helps explain why so often now, what might start as a small grass-roots movement, will often influence business to adopt more ethical, community-minded practices. Issues such as sustainability, animal rights, LGBTQ, MeToo, and BLM.
It seems that suddenly people are getting it. They always cared, but now it’s become urgent. They’ve been shocked, shaken to their core, with a profound impact on their life moving forward.
Claiming to care isn’t caring.
Before Covid-19 many businesses, although being aware, would say… “yes I’d like to get involved, do more for the environment, make a stand, have a purpose beyond making money”. But it never seemed a priority, so kept going on as usual.
Brands might ‘green wash’ or ‘woke-wash’ their marketing, which is even worse because it’s fake. Claiming to care, but not changing anything below the surface, is not convincing. Customers see through it.
So harsh as it might sound, it has taken the pandemic to break the cycle – to make us stop, and think about what really matters. Re-evaluation is now a major consumer trend, applying to all aspects of their life.
Humanising your business isn’t new. Again, it was talked about, but often just one of those buzz words that sound good in the boardroom, but have no real traction in the real world. But it’s a sure bet that those that don’t do it for real, will fall by the way-side.
Don’t stand out for the wrong reasons.
Smart businesses will start connecting on that human level – those that don’t will stand out for the wrong reasons. So, ask yourself: what do your customers really need from you now?
For example, if you had to close your business at the beginning of a lockdown, your customers have changed in that time They may seem normal on the surface, but as I said earlier, all our minds have been rewired into new paths – both positively and negatively.
Emotionally, many have been on rollercoaster journeys, and their needs may have changed. Some have had to pull their horns in financially, or some have discovered, and even enjoyed learning to do things differently with what they have on hand.
Research shows that many people are now preferring to work from home because it gives them more time for family, less time commuting, and considerable cost-savings in transport, lunches and so on.
When business owners reopen their doors, they assume, or maybe just hope their old customers will come back. And many of them will.
But people will also be looking at your business through fresh eyes. And if you haven’t evolved with them, the sad reality is that you’ll get left behind.