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Brands can be respite as consumers grow more weary

What’s happening?

Less than two months out from a polarizing election, all the evidence suggests consumers are tense, anxious and tired. And due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they’re engaging on social media more than ever.

According to Pew Research, nearly half of users surveyed said social media is “very or somewhat important to them” as a way to find others with similar viewpoints and to find ways to get involved with political or social issues. At the same time, more than half of American social media users across political parties say they are “worn out” by political posts and discussions, and have had to take a break from news and/or social media to reduce their pandemic-related stress and anxiety.

What does this mean?

Though social media may be amplifying stressors, it still serves as an arena for connection, information, activism and escape – and, while social distancing and working remotely, consumers are seeking these things in increasing numbers.

We can expect both social media numbers and consumer stress levels to remain high as the election nears and a “second wave” of pandemic looms. As marketers consider how the mental and emotional states of their consumers might shape their digital strategy in the coming months, now is a good time to offer distressed consumers some much-needed relief.

What should marketers be doing?

While certain products and services more overtly offer a promise of respite, understanding the consumer mindset in the current climate gives marketers across categories a lens through which to consider their messaging and pivot accordingly. Here are a few examples.

Consumer goods: We can see from consumer social engagements and searches that self-care, health and exercise are top of mind, as are children’s activities and home improvement, among others you might expect given the circumstances. Home appliances, electronics and other tools are gaining significance for homebound consumers, and outdoor sports and hobbies offer escapes from the walls. B2C marketers have a lot of opportunity for messaging when they consider not just what products they can provide, but what experiences they can help create.

Travel and recreation: There are those who are willing to travel right now and those who are not, but everyone intends to travel again at some point. The opportunity for escape – even if it’s just a mental one – is big in this category. Consumers spend time making future plans and are also interested in what they can do, safely, in the near future. For example, in the last three months, Airbnb has seen a threefold increase in reviews mentioning remote work, as consumers are taking “workcations” for a change of scenery and a mini-retreat.

Building and home products: Home improvement activity has increased significantly since March and the building material and garden category is up more than 22% over last year. At this point, it’s likely that people have accomplished their more pressing needs for functional home office or remote learning spaces. Marketers in this category could shift messaging to focus on the home as a haven. Can you inspire or assist in creating an indoor or outdoor oasis?

Financial sector: At a time when the economy is suffering and the future is full of uncertainty, reassurance and certainty are welcome here, but so is hope. Consumers want financial security now, but they also want to see a way through and think about days ahead. Marketers in this category might consider messaging around saving for future travel, indulging in self-care or investing in yourself, or planning for fun purchases as a way to offer some escape.

Could changes to your messaging benefit your brand in the coming months?

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