The Startup
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The Startup

Maintaining Brand Relevance After a Shift in Consumer Mindset

How the mindset and beliefs of consumers have shifted and what brands can do to stay relevant.

Photo by Laura Chouette via Unsplash

By this point in the year, nearly every person in every industry has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, the lockdown/quarantine, racial injustice, and everything else 2020 has brought with it. Things aren’t going to look anything like they did pre-Covid. And maybe that’s a good thing?

As we’re seeing some industries like travel and retail finding their rhythm again, we’re also experiencing a unique shift in consumer behavior.

Consumers are facing new levels of anxiety and fear that have them leaning into a different set of beliefs and values, to get them through this time. We know it’s human nature to adapt. And while the impact from the pandemic has lasted longer than anyone anticipated, so have these new behaviors consumers are adopting. In order to remain relevant as things continue to change and evolve, brands need to understand these shifts and engage with consumers differently.

Consumers are looking inward.

For the most part, people are still concerned for their health and well-being. So while public spaces have opened up, we still see that many are continuing to wear protective masks and maintaining social distance, opting to visit restaurants and retail shops with outdoor spaces. But what’s important is there’s also been a shift towards self-improvement during this time.

Throughout the pandemic, people have spent more time and money on self-care and personal wellness. The closing of gyms hasn’t prevented people from focusing on their fitness, and many have invested in their “home gyms” (even if it’s only a set of adjustable dumbbells or an exercise bike that compliments your living room decor), as wellness brands like Peloton experience a 172% surge in product sales and subscriptions.

And with many of us spending more time on our computers and connected to devices, those same people are making a more conscious effort to unplug and invest in their physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Brands that can enrich people’s lives or help provide an escape will be more meaningful to consumers.

Men’s grooming brand, Bevel, collaborated with Headspace back in July to offer a free 30 days of Headspace Plus, helping their customers manage the widespread stress and anxiety caused by the number of recent racial injustice events, in the midst of an already mentally and emotionally-draining pandemic.

Bevel offers 30 days free of Headspace Plus via Bevel on Instagram

This move was truly authentic for the brand, as Bevel has always embodied their commitment to the Black community by prioritizing the needs of Black consumers in everything they do.

As we have an increased focus on our personal well-being, many of us have also moved toward a “maintain-mindset” when it comes to our finances. According to a survey done by McKinsey about US consumer sentiment during the pandemic, 40% of consumers are becoming more mindful about where they spend money, and 34% are switching to less expensive products to save money.

With less disposable income and employment that isn’t guaranteed, we’re being more frugal and reinventing ways to do things we normally went outside our homes for. Thanks to brands like The Art of Shaving and Blue Apron, we’re teaching ourselves how to cut our own hair, do our own nails, repair things around the home, and get more creative with our dinner plans or WFH lunches. People are figuring it out themselves (or from YouTube) and refining as they go. Brands that not only provide utility, but also help empower customers to do these things for themselves, will likely be the brands consumers latch onto.

Brands will need to find new and more meaningful ways to tap into consumers’ hearts and minds.

Aside from brands like Amazon, Zoom, and Clorox, who have directly benefited from consumer demand during the pandemic, there are brands that have found ways to pivot and innovate, approaching these new post-pandemic problems in unique ways.

Apple has launched a new Apple Watch Series 6 with a blood-oxygen sensor, an industry-first in allowing consumers to detect early signs of Covid-19 and other respiratory illnesses.

Top fashion brands like Everlane and Louis Vuitton have taken masks and other now-essential wearables and turned them into stylish accessories. The NBA has managed to set an example for sports leagues nationwide by successfully maintaining the engagement and excitement of the 2020 season, without sacrificing the safety of players and fans. And QSR brands like Burger King and Shake Shack are working to redefine fast food experiences that reflect a post-pandemic lifestyle and what we can expect from restaurants of the future.

But the brands that are successful won’t just innovate and solve the new-found problems of today. The most successful brands will be shaping our future lifestyles and providing the type of certainty we can feel comfortable with.

One of my favorite strategists, Jasmine Bina, CEO of Concept Bureau, has touched on this in her article When Consumer Habits Fall Apart, Look For The Rituals That Remain. She mentions that “The products we need right now aren’t merely about ease and reduced friction. They’re about anchoring us, in whatever way possible, to the things that make us feel certain again.”

And she couldn’t be more on point.

We want to feel some sense of certainty in a time where our futures are less predictable, our jobs are unstable, and our finances are more complex. Brands that empower us to feel confident in ourselves, find new and exciting ways to enrich our lives, and show us what a future looks like, will set themselves apart from competitors, no matter how big.

Now is the perfect time to push your brand to the next level. There’s a need for us to be more authentic and relevant than ever before. Push your brands, clients, and/or agency partners to think bolder and deeper. Tell more purposeful stories that people can truly connect with. And ensure your brand taps into these new values they hold close.

The future you will thank you for it.

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Thanks for taking the time to read my perspective! I’ll have more thought pieces on brand/creative strategy, consumer behavior, and culture coming soon. In the meantime, make sure to connect with me on Instagram and LinkedIn!



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Sean Christopher Pitts

Sean Christopher Pitts


Channeling his passion for visual storytelling, consumer behavior, and culture, Sean is a senior creative strategist, photographer, and content creator.