Part 4: A sustainable way out of the crisis

This is the fourth text in our series that explores how the COVID-19 crisis will impact people’s relationship with companies and brands around the world. Read the first article here.

We are facing a recession that is not caused by an abstract financial collapse, but a zoonosis, a pathogen able to transfer from animal to human. It’s a threat that feels both real and close, and that we can affect through our actions. These aspects and their unpredictability make this crisis an entirely new experience.

People have abruptly been made aware that we need to work together in order to survive. As a result, the line between the individual and the collective is fading. Many things that we’ve taken for granted are also suddenly not available to us, and it’s making us reevaluate what we really need.

In and after this crisis, more people will question how they are living their lives and if it’s truly sustainable, asking: What social and environmental effects do I want my consumption to contribute to? This change in attitudes and drivers of both people and whole societies, will influence their choice of companies and brands.

Something else that is different about this crisis, is how consumers prioritized sustainability before it. Before the last recession, these issues were not on people’s mind like they were in early 2020, the Decade of Delivery. And surveys so far show that the pandemic is increasing how important a sustainable society is to people.

Companies and brands need to be ready to adapt to the changing sentiments, because choosing not to could be risky business. Here are a few things to consider:

Take the lead – your customers expect you to

The current recession consumer sets high standards for both governments and companies, expecting them to be environmentally and socially responsible, and trusting that they live up their commitments. Brands should seize this opportunity to live up to these expectations, daring to be led by a purpose in line with the values of the people they serve.

Listen in – sustainable can mean different things

We know from our own studies that close to all people want to contribute to making society better, but their convictions vary about which issues are most pressing, and what will make a real difference. Companies need to stay close to their customers and identify what their views are. Is social injustice their biggest concern, or is it climate change, or democracy, or something else? Pinpoint it.

Offer value – it’s not necessarily only about price

For companies, this is a time to be insightful and innovative when catering to people who want both personal and societal benefit but are highly sensitive to value for money because of financial strain. Brands will build loyal, lasting customer relationships by helping people make choices they will feel good about, at a price they perceive as great value for money.

Plan long-term – sustainability is here to stay

At Lynxeye, we are firm believers that the brands of the future are those led by purpose. It has become increasingly clear that taking part in solving real societal challenges is a big part of that. Even now, with the extreme changes that consumers are experiencing, sentiments in this area hold steady. And if a recession can’t knock it down, companies are wise to take note of this.

Purpose driven brands that dare to take the lead, that align with their consumers stance in sustainability issues, and adapt to their needs and wants, will build strong relationships with people lasting beyond this crisis. Brands that had these prioritizations pre-crisis likely have an advantage, but with the extent of sentiment movements that we’re seeing, any brand with ambition is in the running to come out on top.

The way ahead is to progress with purpose through the crisis.

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Additional reading:
Lynxeye Purposeful Brands study
EY Future Consumer Index
Ipsos COVID-19 climate change poll
Kearney Earth Day 2020 report