The Era of Post-Traumatic Marketing

April 6, 2020

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Helping Consumers Cope After COVID-19

Like a therapist might, I often turn to an exercise that explores the emotions consumers experience with a brand and how the brand makes them feel. I ask questions like: Overall, how would you describe your consumers’ mood? How are they feeling? What are they expecting to feel? What’s bothering them? What would it take to make them feel more content, happier, satisfied?

I bring this up as in recent days there has been a lot of discussion about the 5 Rs of Recovery and how organizations need to think and act. But that’s just one side of the coin, so to speak. By failing to consider the emotional psyche of the consumer, we risk missing the mark in our eventual branded recovery efforts.

To be successful, we need to be mindful of the post-traumatic emotions that will be fueling consumer decisions moving forward. In keeping with the model, let’s consider the 5 Rs of Post-Traumatic Marketing:

  1. Resent – Consumers resent the #NewNormal. Use the phrase and they will stop listening. Instead, show how your brand can be disruptive without causing disruption.
  2. Rebound – Like any rebound relationship, this one is no different. Rational transactions will be clouded by emotion, fueled by personal trauma and a mental ‘score-board’ of how brands acted during the crisis. Which leads to the next ‘R’…
  3. Revenge – Expect consumers to make revenge purchases, fueled by anger at the brands who did not step up in a meaningful way during this crisis.
  4. Reject – When the clouds lift, consumers will reject ‘old’ ways. Continued fluidity in commerce and transparency into corporate policies will be less of a competitive advantage and more of a must-have.
  5. Recall – We can all point to something we’ve been upset about recently. A postponed vacation, a missed wedding, a canceled graduation. And, these feelings won’t pass overnight. Customers want to know that brands get them. Lead with empathy and recall for consumers that your brand has been there for them, feels their challenges and will continue to be alongside them to celebrate the little victories moving forward.

Emotional intimacy is not just for therapy. As marketers moving forward it’s no longer our job to simply serve a consumer need, but to help consumers cope with and recover from this trauma through the comfort and consolation of our brands.