Shifting Fears Will Impact Your Brand
The drivers of consumer fear have shifted during the first few months of the pandemic. Data from our Facing Fear research shows that the fears people had before the pandemic remain, but the factors influencing them have changed in unexpected ways. We maintain that because the emotions of fear and anxiety have remained high over the past few months that brands would do well to take note of how these sentiments are directly affecting consumer behavior. In fact, our research found that they are influencing the way people view the world in a number of key areas. Alter Agents CEO Rebecca Brooks discusses these issues in her latest article for the American Marketing Association, titled “The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Shifted the ‘Fear Focus.'”
Healthcare is the Top Issue
The article begins with an exploration of the universal fears surrounding healthcare, as it is one area that clearly illustrates the pre- to during-pandemic changes. Healthcare has remained a top fear among consumers, but the reasons for this fear have changed. Before the pandemic, fears mostly had to do with high costs, while now most are fearful of being able to actually obtain the care they need for themselves and their families.
Micro v. Macro Outlook
One interesting area of our research had to do with the differences between people’s macro (world) and micro (personal life) views. Originally, we found that a concern over what was happening in the world didn’t necessarily translate to similar concerns over every day life. This remained, with a bit of a change in focus, with our latest round of research. “We found that overall optimism in the future has declined, although respondents generally still felt better about their immediate situation than they did about the state of the world.”
Racial inequality has been a central theme around the globe this year, and we felt it was important to explore this further in our study. Rebecca writes in her article about the differences in fear depending on race, illustrating that minority groups were more likely to have experienced a decline in optimism, while also having “a harder time trusting people, feeling less financially well-off, and feeling more like the system is stacked against them.”
These are all important shifts in consumer sentiment that will have long-term effects on the new reality in which we are all operating. Rebecca concludes her piece with: “Companies and brands are being called upon to fill a vacuum in social leadership. Consumers expect more from those taking a stand for social justice and are more approving of those that do. The key to success for brands seeking to be positive forces in society, beyond all else, is to listen.”
Our Facing Fear Research Series
Drawing on world-class analysis from researchers at Alter Agents and commentary by thought leaders in economics, political science, and psychology, this reporting series is a must-read to understand the consumer mindset entering the second year of the pandemic.
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