EMPATHY – Today’s most powerful communication message
When looking at brand communication during the COVID19 period, the expression of EMPATHY [‘the ability to understand and share the feelings of others’] has the greatest potential to truly move consumers. Of course, brand communication should always strive to be empathetic – and arguably the most successful marketing campaigns have always achieved this, but now it is even more important than ever.
In a recent Forbes article about empathy, “Empathy is the Key to Marketing Campaigns,” Abhilash Patel, an entrepreneur and digital marketing executive, says to write what you know and show compassion. He also tells marketers to inspire good, use emotion and allow audiences to come to their own conclusions, by letting the presented information speak for itself.
This is not only relevant to communication – it is as powerful in the retail world. In fact – Artificial Intelligence, click-and-collect, and other technologies, which may seem to make humans obsolete, are perceived to be the opposite of empathetic and even somewhat cold and distant. Even though technology is driving change, authentic person-to-person online interactions are more crucial than ever to develop meaningful relationships and lead to in-store sales.
Brands must ensure that customer interactions on their websites are rooted in empathy, genuine engagement, and emotional intelligence – all areas which have been underestimated to date. It’s important to cultivate a community of empathy, and to recognize that empathy is not a skill or a process — but an outcome of a compassionate and caring culture.
Here are some observations, showing important balances of empathy and kindness:
- Grocery and convenience stores – As the front lines for many consumers, grocery store chains have promoted their readiness to provide us with the food and things we need through this hard time, all while grocery store workers are putting their own lives on the line to make sure we get what we need. Stores communicating happy store employees ready to stock shelves and images of healthy and tasty looking have become memorable.
- Technology – Tech is the true winner in a stay-at-home mandate. YouTube has launched #StayHome channels showing fun videos posted by consumers during these hard times – from cooking and baking to dancing videos – all created by consumers on self-produced channels. Technology has an ‘Empathy opportunity’ in that a company is both demonstrating care and compassion and enabling it as the connector.
- Health care/medicine – #StayatHomeforThem actions from various brands in the medical field pay tribute to the health care workers at the front lines of this pandemic.
- Home Improvement – Famous brands also feel responsible to encourage people to stay at home. IKEA created a campaign in key European markets around this idea. IKEA wants to pay tribute to our homes. They want to demonstrate that home is the place that is always full of memories and emotions for us, and “it will be here, no matter what”. It reminds us what home means to us. It’s where we have celebrated good news, where we can be ourselves. With #StayHome hashtag, this short and minimalistic film invites us to see our homes from a new perspective and to make it a place where we can enjoy new experiences and sensations at this time.
- Beauty – Unilever’s Dove brand communication – “Courage is Beautiful,” shows shots of tired and worn health care workers. The spot is not selling beauty or cleanliness, but rather thanking these courageous people by donating to Direct Relief to care for front-line health care workers. The brand that is known for making beauty more compassionate expands its ideals to help us connect with what’s important. It’s powerful as it builds empathy and donates to help the people in this fight to save our lives.
What will happen after this pandemic is still unclear. Where we will be after this, we don’t know. But it does seem that kindness and empathy – especially their related concepts of compassion and gratitude – are the critical messages of our near future.
ADK Insights has been monitoring empathy, as also mentioned above by Minneapolis research firm, LitBrains-Igniting Ideas.
ADK INSIGHTS combines both qualitative exploration of the rational and emotional factors surrounding the COVID-19 period, and quantitative scale, including full global SNS coverage, to validate consumers’ ideas, habits and wishes.
Contact us to find out more about our dialogue with consumers worldwide.