From a better-self to a better-world, people are striving not just for self-improvement but to make a wider positive difference to the world around them.
In 2018 we’ve seen customers looking to brands to take on a greater role as enablers, helping them to care about more than just themselves. As the Christmas season draws near, we’re seeing brands tap into this altruistic mindset and help customers build a better world through a focus on kindness.
The betterment opportunity is a vast one; the playing field is open for brands to help customers become their best selves in all areas of their lives. Even in something as mundane as the daily commute. This winter Virgin Trains is partnering with mental health charity Rethinking Mental Illness. The transport provider is painting the script of the classic Christmas tale ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ across platforms all the way from Euston to Glasgow as a reminder that a little kindness can make a big difference to someone’s life. When it comes to reaching customers in a new way, moments that break a captive audience out of routine can have powerful results. Paired with the right message, a clever brand activation can go beyond simply inviting a smile and transform a passive customer’s daily routine into a more meaningful moment.
With Gen Z coming of age in 2018, we’ve seen a wave of teen activism this year. The emerging generation is seeking brands that share their beliefs and support the same causes they care about. This Christmas we’re seeing brands step up to take care of the communities around them, from the Pretty Little Thing team bringing warm coats, blankets, food and more to the homeless in Manchester, to Uber offering free rides to NHS workers over the holiday period.
Aligning brand mission with key social issues will help customers contribute to causes they care about, while helping brands forge deeper connections with customers themselves. But above all, kindness is not just for Christmas. The most successful brands will make this part of their year-round offer. Take Cath Kidston’s policy of giving store managers a budget to make peoples’ day, or Chick-Fil-A’s emphasis on service gestures that go the extra mile. Consistent messaging and trusted store experience create life-long devotees and Christmas is the perfect time to celebrate year-round policies.
From fast fashion, to fast food, people are increasingly faced with the choice between convenience for me, and kindness to the planet / other people. Ethical business decisions that ensure sound throughout the supply chain will do the difficult leg-work for customers, helping make the good decisions effortless and convenient. When it comes to Christmas shopping, ethical brands are providing market places where kind-to-the-planet products are guaranteed. Ethical Christmas marketplace Honest House London focuses on preparing customers for a sustainable new year, with plant-based food bites and sustainable gifts. Ethical fashion brand Know The Origin provides a year round guarantee that the products they sell have been created in a way that’s kind to both the brands’ workers and the planet.
Convenience is key to get people giving. They are often discouraged by lengthy sign up processes and long-term commitments. Making it easy for people to contribute in small ways, will foster a more organic brand-customer relationship. A charity shop with a designer boutique twist, Mary’s Living and Giving Shop at Kew actively encourages customer involvement through flexible volunteering. People are invited to come as a couple or bring a friend when they have four hours to spare, providing a practical way to mobilise the community.
The desire for betterment is shifting from competitive roots of self-optimisation and individual measures of success, to a more collective approach that considers individual needs whilst contributing to a greater goal. Christmas celebrations are a prime opportunity for brands to mobilise the community around a brand, however this will be the most effective if in-line with year-round brand activations and policies.