Brands are increasingly under pressure from consumers to share their values and do the right thing, whether it’s protecting the environment, respecting worker and human rights, or ethically and sustainably sourcing raw materials. And, now governments are getting involved potentially resulting in provocation, sanctions, and boycotts that can create challenges for brands in established markets. We are seeing the repercussions of geopolitics in the Chinese market, for example, where Western brands are being strategically targeted as a result of political positions on Xinjiang and Hong Kong.
Beyond politics younger consumers are flexing their muscles. Gen Zers think that brands should be about more than just profit and contribute to making people’s lives better by aiming for a positive and restorative impact.
In 2021 there are consequences for brands that take missteps, and the impact can be swift and debilitating. There is a new lexicon that is all about being thoughtful, inclusive, and affirmative. Brands such as Unilever are removing the loaded descriptor “normal” from its beauty and personal care products in an endeavour to support acceptance and ownership of imperfections, demote negative stereotypes, and redefine aspiration. One size no longer fits all. Brands are paying more attention to the aspirations of real people by using content and language that is not only inclusive but also sustainable, equitable, and transparent.
In the wake of the pandemic consumer awareness and attitudes have changed. Consumers are starting to reward brands that take action on environmental and social issues. The threat of a backlash can result in negative fallout, turbulence, and disruption, potentially hitting sales or damaging brand reputation. In an uncertain trajectory it is important to be aware of the trends the reflect the evolving strategic, ethical, and consumer landscape by looking at how your brand can add value to the lives of others. We are on the cusp of an impactful new era that will provide many opportunities for brands to reshape the way we live, learn, work, do business, and generally make our lives better. Are you ready?