In a recent article from our marketing recovery series titled, “Shifting the focus on recovery,” marketing was highlighted as essential in responding to disruption, and as a means of helping companies and people move in the same direction. The article identified direction, agility and participation as fundamental principles to a responsive recovery approach. As the pandemic continues to disrupt business and our daily lives, another factor must come into focus – distraction.
Marketing plays a primary role in connecting you with your target audience and growing your business. Understanding the influence of distraction, both for consumers and your organization, is critical to moving forward together.
Let’s face it, we are ALL distracted
As people and marketers responding to disruption, we need to acknowledge distraction’s impact on our thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Distraction impacts our emotional tolerances, our attention thresholds, how we process information and make decisions. It changes the type of solutions we’re looking for, what motivates us, what we want to experience and how we want to be talked to and engaged with.
For instance, all eyes have been on the supply chain lately – which is putting more attention on consumer expectations and customer experience. The emotional relevance of this category has gone up, but it also creates emotional distraction in the form of deprivation, reduced independence and increased friction.
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Is it a coincidence that along with the digital acceleration of the last two plus years, we also saw an acceleration in mindfulness? It illustrates the need to lean as hard on human factors as we’re leaning on technology and automation. There’s a lot about mindfulness that’s good for business and overcoming distraction – primarily focus. What must be avoided is turning mindfulness into a commercial product.
According to the Economist’s special report, The future of shopping, we’ve entered a customer-centric renaissance that’s reshaping the relationship between brands and people. This means we need to be able to shift our perspective from what we know to what we don’t know. We must approach challenges and opportunities with a beginner’s mindset – open, curious and present. Within the current context of the pandemic, a shift in perspective is critical to responding to the evolving dynamics and increasing consumer distraction. Shifting perspective creates more focus on opportunity.
Marketplace swings shape and change our collective and individual narratives. These narratives shape our perceptions and values, our choices and our actions. What we tell ourselves, cultivate within our organizations and communicate to customers has a significant impact on how we see ourselves, and our companies. They can be distracting or empowering. Storytelling that promotes brand purpose and aligns with people’s values helps to focus choice. People choose you. Especially now, people want better values, better products and better companies. Mindfulness at scale can ensure brands contribute to people’s lives with a focus on their stories.
Part of mindfulness is cultivating consciousness – the ability to put the ego aside and look at things holistically with full awareness of the environments, people and elements that make up the whole. It asks people to become more aware of what’s going on inside themselves, other people and in the world around them. The growing trend toward conscious consumption has been gaining ground during the pandemic, changing how people approach the act of consumption and influencing their expectations of brands. Notably, #kindness, the product afterlife economy, the right to repair movement and climate change have all gained ground over the pandemic.
The pandemic has put pressure on organizations and people to find a better balance between me and we. C Space, an Interbrand-owned consumer research consultancy, writes:
People increasingly realize their impact on others and others' impact on them. At a rate and global scale never before experienced. Beyond debates of independence versus collective responsibility, we are seeing increased recognition of interdependence.
C Space calls this self-reliant interdependency where “individual actions create a greater collective outcome AND a better individual result.” Brands need people more than people need them. Being conscious of what this new space between me and we means to the brand ecosystem and consumers will help you better leverage partnerships and consumer participation. Internally, greater consciousness will enable better integration between departments and activities. Integration is an excellent tool for overcoming distraction and getting everyone moving in the same direction. It focuses on finding points of interdependence that can accelerate market impact.
Moving in the same direction
The before and after COVID narrative is a distraction unto itself. It stops us from being present and engaged – ultimately getting in the way of taking a responsive approach to value creation.
To move in the same direction, we need to try and be more mindful in our approach to marketing, adding a hefty dose of compassion for ourselves, our colleagues and our customers. When you’re conscious of the role distraction plays in your organization and within your customers’ lives, you can move with people, stay connected and be present.
At the core of mindfulness is possibility – a poignant reminder to marketers about the vital role marketing plays in responding to disruption. To help you get past distraction, here’s a little formula – a mantra, if you like – I can be responsive when I’m present.
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