Gifts from a Pandemic #8: Consumers Are More Empowered (Kicking Off a New Marketing Mindset)

Jim bought a basil plant.

Maybe this is how it all begins, I thought.


Here in California, even before Covid-19, we’d had our share of crises with recent wildfires and PG&E power outages.

And we are always supposed to be prepared for the next big earthquake. (I am touching wood as I write this.)

We have crates in our garage filled with enough granola bars to survive off of for a month. (Unless they expire first.)

We are supposed to be prepared for “what if” whatever that might be.

For some people, especially those who are hulled up at home, trying to take care of themselves or sick loved ones, “what if” is here.

When we feel unqualified or unequipped and are facing a life-or-death situation, going it alone isn’t a good thing, it is terrifying.

However, after we make it through, even if it was traumatic and harrowing and had life-altering consequences, we usually come away realizing that, even with all the pain and suffering, we are a lot more capable, courageous, able to support each other, and able to handle “what if” than we knew.

That’s a sense of empowerment that no one can ever take away from us.

DIY Is Saving Lives

We are experiencing a time when an unprecedented number of people are channeling this sense of empowerment to make real change.

When the market or government fails them, they are taking matters into their own hands.

A perfect example is all the people bringing out their sewing machines or learning to sew for the first time, making face masks for their loved ones and healthcare workers, filling in for a manufacturing sector gone missing.

Who knew the DIY crafting movement was going to save us all?

This survivor attitude being displayed, whether from sewing masks, cheering each other on from balconies, or making sure the virus doesn’t spread by staying home and using hand sanitizer is extremely powerful.

Each of us is changed, in our hearts and minds.

We know what we are capable of, and what really is essential.

And if we don’t know it through our own experience, we are being reminded of our own potential through the firsthand, inspirational role models of real life heroes.

Once that kind of an inner shift in consciousness happens, it doesn’t disappear by a jumpstarted economy.

When all this is over, which is still a long way away, I predict we will not going be going back to business as usual.

Marketing Is Going To Change

I believe marketing will need to change because worldwide, in every country, together, consumers have changed, inwardly, in a deep way. Better yet will be products and initiatives that meet consumers where they are at, which is in a completely different place than they were.

This change among consumers is so profound that we have yet to completely fathom what it will mean from a marketing perspective.

Consumers already are much more confident, empowered, discerning and ready to kick-ass.

Their loved ones are being threatened, so they don’t have time for BS.

If they don’t like the goods (or lack of goods) being offered, they are going to do it on their own.

If they don’t feel safe, they are going to take matters into their own hands and protect their own.

We have just witnessed the birth of a far more discerning, empowered, individualized buying mindset, and the socialization of whole new generation of really tough, creative kids.

Resiliency Training 101.

A Very Different Future

So, where do we go from here? What do we do with all this new empowerment?

What choices are each consumer, on an individual level, going to make differently after all this is done?

It’s personal, of course.

Which brings me back to the basil plant.

It was purchased at a grocery store, delivered by InstaCart because we are not doing our own shopping during these days of the Coronavirus. (So much for self-sufficiency.)

Who knows, maybe this little plant is the beginning of that herb garden we’ve always wanted.

That’s the key.

What do we want?

We are asking because we have the time and we’re reevaluating everything.

Just like everyone else.

Consumers Are In It For The Long Haul

We are waking up to the fact that some of the ways things have been done in the past (for example, long commutes to cities where disease flourishes) don’t have to be that way.

As consumers, even in our state of trauma, shock and just trying to make ends meet, we are noticing all those things we were consuming and doing before that didn’t make us feel that great or contribute to our well-being.

In some cases, we were just consuming them because others were putting them on our plate.

And telling us they were good for us, when they really weren’t.

Now that we have been without some of them for a while, we have a whole new vantage point.

Each of us, in our individual lives have identified things that we don’t miss.

I know that many of us are experiencing profound losses, trying to make ends meet to feed our families and unsure about the future.

I’m not talking about losing those big things that are core to our survival, sanity and well-being.

I’m talking about the other stuff, the stuff that wasn’t keeping us alive, and in fact may have been lowering our resistance and wearing us down, rather than making us strong and contributing to our well-being.

The specifics of what it is are unique to each of us, each family, each situation and each story.

But the fact is each of us has noticed something we don’t miss, and that we can truly live without it or do another way.

After all this is over, there will be areas of our lives where each of us will be choosing to do things differently.

The changes we make may be small, we may not even be aware of them.

We will be making those choices, however, from a place of empowerment.

This fact is profound and will be the driving force behind the cultural shift that I believe we are about to experience on a global level.

What Are We Going To Do Differently?

The question now, in the weeks, months and even years ahead, is how are each of us, on the individual level going to do things differently, now that we know we can?

What are we going to do with our new knowledge and perspective?

The answer is bigger than what we buy and how we spend our time.

But, the small stuff does matter because that’s where it all begins.

We Will Be More Empowered to Just Say No

While it’s going to be subtle, and it’s going to be internalized, I think consumers are going to be reconsidering options in a different way, specifically asking more often:

  1. Do we really need this?
  2. Could there be another way?

Whether we say yes, no or come up with a new homespun option will depend on the following five questions.

#1: How will this impact my mental, emotional and physical well-being?

We now know, more than ever before, how much our health matters.

#2 Is there another, more affordable way?

Money will be tight and we now are more in touch with how much we can save by deleting things or doing them on our own.

#3 How will this affect my time?

We now all have a new relationship with time. This might be the biggest game changer of all.

#4 How will this impact my privacy and focus?

In the absence of socializing, hiring help, running errands or non-Covid-related news, we’ve each had a lot more privacy and less distractions. Sometimes that’s a good thing.

#5 Is there another way that will give me more control?

While our DIY projects may not be perfect, making, baking, fixing and creating things on our own gives us control and fuels our sense of individual empowerment. As the future continues to be uncertain, preserving these feelings may become increasingly important.

The extent of our empowerment and self-sufficiency, the eighth in this series on the unexpected gifts of this global pandemic, is still unfolding. It will be interesting to see how it continues to play out as we decide what we want to change in the weeks, months and years ahead.

Stay safe, everyone. Remember you are more powerful than you know. The solution to whatever challenge is facing you today may be your next creative idea. We’ve all got what it takes to get through this crazy time, on our own, and together.

More Articles Like This

If you want to be inspired by some super creative face masks from around the world, check out these photos from CNN.

You also may enjoy the other articles in this blog series on the unexpected gifts from Covid-19

Gift #1: We Are Becoming More Open to New Ideas

Gift #2: The Real Potential of World Peace

Gift #3: We Are Remembering We Are More Alike Than Different

Gift #4: New Respect for Our Elderly

Gift #5: We Are Getting Back In Touch With Lost Connnections

Gift #6: The Earth is Getting a Break (and it shows)

Gift #7: More Family Time (with surprising results)

7 Lessons Almost Dying Taught Me About Living (and why that gives me hope about Covid-19)

How Are You, Really?


Here’s how to return to home

Copyright © 2020, Laurie Smith, All rights reserved. Photo credit: Laurie Smith; EQroy/Shutterstock.

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