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In times of crisis, empathy fuels loyalty

30th Dec 2020
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In 2020, consumers have massively and quickly shifted to more local, digital, and environmentally friendly behaviors. This year, Forrester showed how the growing importance of values-based consumption for a minority of affluent consumers will urge brands to embrace business resiliency. We also looked at the digital reboot that firms need to survive any further infection waves and lockdowns and also to drive recovery. 

The latest report, “To Win And Retain Consumers During The Pandemic, Start With Empathy,” digs deeper. We identified four risk profiles to help understand global consumers’ sensitivity to health and financial risks in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Consumer Risk Perception Framework identifies consumers as: 

  • Strained: high financial risk and high health risk. These customers need compassion and advice on well-being. 
  • Thrifty: high financial risk, low health risk. These consumers are looking for deals. 
  • Poised: low financial risk, low health risk. These consumers are ready to get back into the world and are hungry for emotionally resonant experiences. 
  • Cocooned: low financial risk, high health risk. These consumers will spend on digital, values-based experiences to keep themselves safe. 

Forrester Consumer Risk Perception Framework

Where consumers sit on the framework varies significantly around the world. Less than a fifth of UK consumers are in our Thrifty category, compared to more than a quarter in France and only 13% in metro China. 

Our latest report examines how to make sense of the most important emotions influencing current consumer decisions and to develop a view of which resources consumers will reach for next and why. We found that: 

  • Empathy is critical yet elusive. Consumers are gravitating toward the brands that prioritize people over profits. While nearly all businesses know the importance of showing customer empathy, most struggle to deliver it. 
  • Understanding distinct consumer outlooks reveals what empathy should look like. CMOs can use the lens of consumer risk profiles to recognize what consumers need physically and emotionally in order to feel that the brand cares for them. 
  • Consumers’ risk sensitivities will change with the environment. The cliché “The only constant is change” will follow us into 2021. Economic, social, and political change will shock consumers into new value systems, priorities, and behavioral patterns. 

Learn more about Forrester Predictions for 2021 here. The article was written by Forrester’s VP & Research Director Martin Gill and originally appeared here

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