Your Consumers are Afraid

I’m going to say it out loud.

I’m afraid.

I’m afraid of catching COVID-19. Or worse, my wife, kids, or parents, catching it.

Afraid of how we’ll manage remote learning for our kids.

Afraid of another Great Recession, or worse.

Afraid of the fear and hate that keep equality out of reach for millions of Americans.

Afraid of the tribalism that divides our country and threatens our future.

I might be a marketer, but I’m also a person. And I suspect I have a lot in common with how most other people are feeling these days. (Also, research confirms this.)

That’s just the reality of this moment.

We are terrified. And it’s hard to get past that feeling.

This is the headspace your consumer is swimming in, 24/7.

So, if that’s where they are, how do you reach them? How do you connect with them in a genuine way? And how in the world do you plan for next quarter, or next year, when your consumer can’t even bear to think about tomorrow?

You can start by acknowledging their fear.

Not by trying to inspire them or remind them of their resilience.

This is admittedly an uncomfortable thing for marketers and communicators to do. Like cheerleaders, we are hard-wired to radiate positivity (no matter what the scoreboard says!), and the thought of talking about heavy, emotional issues makes us — and our organizations — squeamish.

That’s probably why you’re hearing most brands tell their customers, “we’re better together,” or “we’ll get through this,” instead of digging deeper. Such messages may be true, but they ignore the reality of what people are feeling right now.

They don’t need our brands’ relentless optimism.

They need acknowledgement. Acknowledgment that we know they are afraid. And that we are afraid too, but that we’re doing what we can.

People expect a lot from the brands in their lives, especially during tough times like these. They expect us to empathize. And they expect us to take action.

So, this is your chance.

You can embrace discomfort and acknowledge your consumers’ fears. And you can show them that you’re doing what you can. That you’re taking action to help your consumers and to be there for the communities you serve — the communities that have made you successful.

They will remember you for it. They will appreciate you for it. And they will show their appreciation through their loyalty.



August 18, 2020
Nothing beats a good old-fashioned conversation.
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