During the current climate of COVID19, panic buying and herd mentality, there are two types of people showing their true colours. Regardless of age, race, colour or creed, humanity is coming together and breaking apart simultaneously.
Take a supermarket as a physical example; hundreds crowd as the store opens and slowly begin to push their way in. Some people push harder, some shout and become rude to anyone in their way. Others seek to be polite, help others in need, work together to reach a common goal. The same characteristics are seen in a digital landscape across social media. Trolls take to strangers like the coronavirus itself, poisoning everything in their way.
Others spread peace and love through the medium of motivational quotes, disseminating useful or positive messages of hope to anyone who might care or benefit.
Now think about brands, businesses and corporates. They come in all shapes and sizes, some clearly good, some rather bad. The good companies seek to disrupt the bad, tip the balance and create change for the better. Better for the planet, for their customers, for their staff.
The bad dodge taxes, lure people in with small hits of dopamine in return for harvesting data, more valuable than oil. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, supermarkets, social media platforms, businesses and people from all walks of life are coming together, and breaking apart. World leaders are showing their true colours.
Companies are taking their own action, regardless of governments' advice, deciding what's best for their own staff.
But what about their consumers? What about us? Different demographics broadly behave differently. The young are exhibited as casually reckless, with many Gen Z’s more worried about their own mental health deteriorating (from not being able to see their friends) than they are worried about the wider impacts on society and those outside their immediate circles.
We’ve all been 18 and felt indestructible, but this selfish streak arguably seems to be stronger with Gen Z than previous generations. The elderly are locked up in self-isolation, implored by the government to stay indoors at all costs whilst their loved ones panic buy and panic plan for worst case scenarios and attempt to educate their technologically disabled to communicate in a new, virtual world.
Generation X, the most recent of the baby boomers (until 9 months from now), take care of their children, their parents, their jobs and their friends all simultaneously, whilst tightening their purse strings in preparation for what comes next, and celebrating another week survived with a boozy Zoom party once the kids are in bed.
Millennials on the whole are behaving more admirably than not, taking care of themselves and others, acting responsibly and sincerely, offering themselves up to help the NHS and their local communities, making sure to exercise daily, embracing the change and adapting quickly to the new digital dimension and joys (even) of working from home. Half of millennials — versus 38% of the population — consider themselves content creators, and 75% share content online. They are all about creating, sharing, and capturing memories. In the United States alone, 3 millennials account for 30% of all retail sales, a figure of $1.4 trillion in spending (pre-pandemic).
In the current climate of self-isolation and rolling lockdowns, every generation is behaving more and more like millennials. We all now have more in common with millennials and more in common with each other due to this global health and economic crisis.
Demographic band or appointed societal descriptor aside we all crave and welcome a better, more sincere and legitimate ways to interact with each other, physically and digitally. In a post-GDPR, post-cookie, post-COVID-19 world, we will all need to take more responsibility for how we interact with each other, how we impact the planet, and how we approach our physical and digital environments.
This applies to the human race as much as it does to brands – but where brands reflect and moderate to the changing swells in our individual and collective moods and needs. 'Millennial-grade' sincerity from brands will mean there’s nowhere for them to hide and no way they can fake it to millennial audiences. Some brands will get left behind – they will not be equal to these new rules and expectations – but other brands will flourish and lead the way to a new world where sincerity and shared responsibility is recognised and honoured.
As a wise man named Dave once wrote, “It’s times like these we learn to live again”.
Silas Armstrong, head of business development, BLiX