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Brands, Consumers, Look To Balance Duality In Pandemic Life

We used to think life was complex because we had to continually try and balance the competing interests of home, work, play and all the thoughts, feelings and actions that went into them.

Now we know there was simplicity in the separation.

We are seeing light at the end of this pandemic tunnel. Six months ago, we didn’t know what to expect. One commonality for most of us was that home became our safe space 24/7.

While we have long thought home was the place we most wanted to be, we find ourselves stuck there amid a swirling sea of conflicted thoughts, colliding emotions and contradictory actions that have us in a constant state of questioning.

During the height of the pandemic, we asked millennials, Gen X-ers, and boomers to keep a digital diary of their thoughts, including pictures of how they were coping and what they were feeling.

Turns out, security, inspiration and peace of mind were top of mind. Their questions included: Should they stay home or risk going out; remain cautious or optimistic; quarantine alone or with family; buy only necessities or splurge on treats; shop online or in-store? More important, what hobby should they take up -- and does it need to involve sourdough bread?

This dueling reality is exhausting for consumers and brands alike.

Learning to live with duality is a new concept, and one one brands can help with. People have lost trust in nearly every resource, from government to nonprofits, and businesses have the opportunity and the responsibility to step up to the challenge.

The first thing brands must do is to recognize that duality is not a bad thing. It is actually necessary to have two opposing forces to create balance. Often those seemingly competing ideas are in fact complementary ones.

Next, brands must show people empathy for the conflicts they are facing. From this point of shared understanding, brands can start to offer solutions.

Those who participated in the pandemic diary project cited brands that addressed duality successfully, adding much-needed comfort and balance in their chaotic households. Among the oft-mentioned brands:

Escapism is much needed for many, so Netflix and Facebook were frequently noted. Even folks who rarely visit the social networking site are now using the platform to maintain contact with friends and see how they are handling the pandemic.

Huge support for local restaurants and businesses. When restaurants threw in paper towels and toilet paper with a pizza order, residents, giddy for the first time about toilet paper, ordered generously.

Geico and USAA discounted rates or issued refunds to car owners who aren’t driving much during COVID-19.

In finding the balance in duality, we have learned that consumers are looking for the five Cs:

  1. Comfort: to feel safe shopping in clean environments or online, where they can find affordable products.
  2. Confidence: to make decisions and control outcomes.
  3. Clarity: of information, choices, structures.
  4. Care: empathy, kindness and inclusion for employees, customers and the community.
  5. Contribution: working for a higher calling and a greater cause.

How many Cs are your favorite brands addressing? How about your employer?

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