Why You Should Leverage Empathy in Your 2022 Marketing

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Why You Should Leverage Empathy in Your 2022 Marketing

As we head into 2022 and open a new chapter, it’s important to remember the lessons learned over the past two years about consumers, marketing, and the importance of empathy and solidarity. That’s the argument of my latest column for AdvertisingWeek, titled “Top Reasons Why You Should Leverage Empathy in Your 2022 Marketing.”


In it, I urge marketers and advertisers to keep the positive messaging and tactics employed during 2020 and 2021 because the challenges that consumers faced over those years are not gone, and 2022 will bring yet more to the table. Here’s why we’ll continue to need empathy for our customers:


Shoppers are reevaluating priorities

We know from our Facing Fear research series and anecdotal evidence that people spent time during the pandemic reevaluating their priorities. It was a reality check, and the effects are everywhere. From the Great Recession to rising Shopper Promiscuity, changing priorities will continue to affect consumer behavior. Having empathy for those bettering their lives instead of frustration at changing metrics will be important in the coming year. 


There’s a disconnect between economic sentiment & indicators

The economy has improved, but structural weaknesses like inflation keep anxiety fresh. Inflation really worries consumers, especially those who can watch paychecks weaken in real time. But even those relatively unscathed by price increases thus far feel as though the economy isn’t doing so well, despite record-low unemployment and rising GDP. We’ll eventually see sentiment and behavior align. Brands have an opportunity to help with the sentiment part by putting out positive messaging that emphasizes consumer power.


It’s an election year

The midterms are in November and control of Congress is on the line. The political advertising sector’s bullhorn will be on full blast, and don’t expect the messaging to be harmonious and unifying. Give consumers a respite from all that, especially after half the country meets disappointment after election day.


The pandemic playbook isn’t closed

COVID persists, with the Omicron Variant posing new concerns. Marketers should be focusing on these points:

  • Look back at the lessons learned from running the pandemic playbook. What felt authentic, and what was too contrived?
  • What specific challenges are the people in your target audience facing? How can you communicate to them that you’ll help them overcome those challenges?
  • How have things changed for your company and community over the past year? How can you positively incorporate those changing realities into your messaging?


I’m an optimist, but also a realist. Things may be better now than they were at the start of 2021, but we’ve still got work to do for ourselves, our communities, and our business partners. Let’s tackle that work with empathy.


Understanding your customers is vital for marketing to them effectively. We can help with that.


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About the author:

Clayton Southerly is the Marketing Communications Manager at Alter Agents, a strategic market research consultancy based in Los Angeles. He works with a team of super-smart researchers to translate data into actionable recommendations, build products, and get executives excited about insights that help them reach their target audiences. Prior to his time in the market research industry, Clayton did a stint in product development and media analysis at Bulletin Intelligence, designing and delivering information products for the White House and Fortune 500 brands. When he’s not building comms strategy and creating content, Clayton enjoys sitting on the beach, cooking, and traveling.

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