Opportunities in the new, better, next normal

Given the number of articles recently about how consumers are actively seeking good news, and hoping for a brighter, more optimistic future, brands that act as positivity enablers in this climate have a unique opportunity to gain valuable ground.

Amongst all the multiple conversations about the future landscape and uncertainty about whether we will return to how things were before, we sense here at Caulder Moore that there is a clear and evident desire for an accelerated positive change.

Coca Cola’s recent return to advertising after a hiatus since April launched with #open like never before, with George ‘The Poet’ Mpanga, talking about a better normal, with a campaign that champions optimism, hope, and inspiration, and advocating a better life. The campaign feels as if it strikes a note which is empathetic to a desire for a return to normal, but a better normal, encouraging people to appreciate the things they took for granted and explore new opportunities. Walter Susini, describes the campaign relying on a simple idea of, rather than entering a new normal, focus on a more optimistic platform of a ‘better normal.’ Powerfully emotive, and with a sense of ‘realism’ in execution, the effect is one which feels heartfelt and resonant. Susini talks about events have highlighted empathy as their ‘lighthouse’ future guiding principle.

Credit: SJ Objio
Credit: SJ Objio

A recent McKinsey report, based on research in the US, found that 75% of respondents had tried something new, whether a store, brand, or different way of shopping, and given this appetite to change habits, there is a moment of opportunity for brands to assert and insert themselves as options to surprise and delight customers and win new fans and loyalists, reinforce positive new beliefs and shape emerging habits with new offerings, in this time of radically changing behaviours.

The report talks about this being a unique moment in which brands have the rare opportunity to be part of a new repertoire and consideration for consumers in this ‘next normal' as McKinsey describes it, to be a more important and influential force in a time of rapid change, than was potentially previously possible.

One of the changes that has been a key topic is the effect of being compelled in recent months to have ‘slowed’ and how this may change our future behaviours in being more reflective, and considered.

One of the industries, beyond the amplified considerations surrounding sustainability, under the spotlight is fashion.

A recent BOF (Business of Fashion) interview with Michael Kors talked about his desire to re-engage with his customers to nurture a more private, personal, relationship with the brand, which he believes was central to his original success. He talked about how the fashion system is broken, and we cannot do things in the way we have done in the past, and consequently he is eschewing the rampancy of the increasing number of seasons. Alongside brands like Gucci and Saint Laurent, Michael Kors will be reducing the number of his collections, and he will be reducing to two seasons, after questioning the meaning of a pre-fall collection, an example of an ‘invented’ season which creates the idea of needless relentless accelerated pace, a collection which, he believes only serves to confuse customers, when they have only just absorbed the one that has just hit the shops. Elsewhere in the interview, he talks about a ‘return to the future’, his personal vision of a better normal, a scenario where people enjoy a more emotional connection with the brand, investing in pieces that they fall in love with, treasure and cherish which possess an integral value, and generates a more personal, intimate joy.

He talked about of the high-frequency output in fashion “this insatiable appetite for what’s new,” and “new for newness sake, or because it will look cool on Instagram? Forget it.” He talked about screaming content, and how “The word ‘content’ has diseased the fashion industry. I want to see an image that lasts for more than a second. I want words that actually resonate.”

Evidently, this movement has strong links to sustainability concerns, and one hopes that the fashion industry in general will take a lead from influential designers such as Kors to explore this slowing down to appreciate and value our purchases, rather than as a throw away insta moment, and throwaway item.

While self-actualisation, and personal transformations topping Maslow’s hierarchy of needs with safety previously languishing close to the bottom, with recent events, arguably safety has moved upwards. It would be interesting to explore how our need for safety now co-exists alongside the more elevated desires and needs at the top. Again, brands and businesses that can successfully balance and manage this nuance in the new/better/next normal will possess a valuable competitive edge.

So, alongside reassuring customers with making them feel safe and reassured, amidst this unprecedented sea change in behaviours, those brands that can simultaneously find ways to delight, enchant, seduce, stimulate, energise, and be a force of optimism, will capitalise on a unique opportunity and moment to become part of the next and better normal future.

Header photo credit: Clark Tibbs

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