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For goodness’ sake: how brands can win share-of-heart.

By Claire Birchenough.

The pursuit of short-term sales means brands often forget the importance of share-of-heart and winning respect from their customers. Now, the societal need couldn’t be greater – and, as a consequence, it has never been a better time to gain that holy grail of marketing: unbreakable brand preference. In case anyone needed reminding of how important shared values and emotions can be with consumers, three numbers illustrate the point in no unclear terms:

  • 64% of consumers choose, switch, avoid or boycott a brand based on its stand on societal issues
  • 76% of people say supporting companies that are addressing social and environmental issues helps them feel they are doing their part
  • Nearly nine-in-10 consumers (86%) say they’re likely to purchase from purpose-driven companies

Even before coronavirus, having a positive impact on the world was fast becoming the best way for brands to emotionally connect with consumers.

Patagonia has quite rightly gained a premium status and price point – by genuinely caring about the world. This is perhaps best seen in their ‘Don’t buy this jacket’ Christmas campaign, which encouraged people to consider the effects of consumerism on the environment and to purchase only what they need. And in how they gave 100% of their Black Friday profits to grassroots non-profits working on the frontlines to protect air, water and soil for future generations.

To get an enthusiastic response, it’s clear that brands need to act authentically, and, yes, that means doing more than ‘social distancing’ a logo. Compassion can’t be tokenistic. Instead, it’s the brands that take action who show true empathy: Guinness helping bartenders, Pret fuelling NHS workers and Nike donating $15 million towards the coronavirus response. It’s Diageo providing grain neutral spirit to create eight million bottles of hand sanitiser and Mercedes F1 engineers helping to make a breathing aid for coronavirus patients in less than 100 hours. Or it’s Crocs donating shoes to US healthcare workers and Brompton supplying bikes for frontline NHS staff. I could go on.

Empathy is the superpower that will help brands through these uncertain times.

Empathy will win the hearts of employees – both current and ex-employees (true ambassadors for brands) – and it will earn brands ‘credit’ with consumers for years to come.

In the words of Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”