Pandemic Fog: Consumers Feel Less Secure, Not Understood By Brands

Here’s a broad view for email teams parsing response metrics to understand consumers: People want brands not only to understand them, but to help keep them safe, according to Forces of Influence 2.0, a new study from Atlantic Brand Partners, conducted by Lucid. 

How would brands do the latter? Apparently they are not: While 72% of consumers expect companies to protect them, only 14% say they are doing more than individuals and the government to accomplish that.

Moreover, while 72% feel brands should understand them, only 43% say they do, suggesting that data is not delivering on the twin tasks of audience targeting and personalization. And, 62% expect brands to empower them, but only 13% say they feel more empowered than they did two years ago. 

The Atlantic cites five forces shaping consumer behaviors today:

  • Security Systems — 58% are more cautious than before the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Multiplicity of Belief — 67% have redefined their priorities over the past two years. 
  • Social Anchoring — 48% now have a smaller social circle than they did two years ago. 
  • Power Leveling — 52% are demanding more power over their lives, 47% over their health, and 46% over their finances. 
  • Liquid Selves — 68% feel the past two years have impacted their identity.  



In other findings, the report shows that 74% feel it is more important that their voice be heard by authorities and institutions (and by brands, we’re sure).  

In addition, perceptions may have to change about societal groups. Take Gen Z (ages 18-25). They are 18% more likely that the total to say that wealth, indulgent self-interest and ambition are more important than they were two years ago. Don’t expect these young folks to be marching in the street for causes. 

And women feel more insecure. They are are more likely than man to say their finances (44% versus 30% for men) are less secure. Ditto their careers (31% compared with 24% for men), and mental health (35% versus 24% for men). 

Moreover, 25% of people of color say having power over their lives is more important than it was two years ago, compared to 14% for White respondents.  

On a surface reading, these findings present serious challenges for email marketers. One is that personas are shifting more rapidly than they have in the past, and that legacy data has to be suspect. 

Another is that brands have to be more protective of consumer privacy than they have been. Safety begins with the ability to control one’s own data and to be protected from malicious technology and fraud (not to mention batch-and-blast mass marketing).

Lucid surveyed over 3,000 people in the U.S. and U.K.  Atlantic Brand Partners is The Atlantic's Business Services Group.


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