AUS NORMALITY INDEX – Week 7

AUS NORMALITY INDEX – Week 7

The Australian Normality Index (Week 7) has revealed two important changes in Australians’ sense of wellbeing and an interesting lesson for organisations who are seeking to maintain relevance and achieve the idealised state of partnering with customers.

  • FROM LIVES TO LIVELIHOODS:  ‘Feeling confident in the economy’ is now the strongest driver with an overall impact of 30% (up from #3 and a 18% impact in week 1). This is a significant change.  For the first seven weeks of the Covid-19 restrictions our sense of normality was driven by our concerns regarding loss of ability to freely move about in the community, ability to access healthcare and groceries.  This was fuelled by the very real health threat that we were experiencing in combination with restrictions on our movements.

Now with the health crisis being well managed in Australia, and restrictions easing, our concerns and attention have shifted to the economic threat that is following hard on the heels of the pandemic.  This has major implications for brands in terms of consumer behaviour and there are many lessons to be learnt from past economic contractions with the caveat that at this stage we still don’t the trajectory nor the magnitude of this contraction.

There will be real and lasting consumer behaviour impacts from these current and expected economic shocks.  Brands need to pressure test current offer, customer experience and communications strategies against the high likelihood that consumers will become markedly more prudent if not frugal in the short and medium term.

  • ANTIDOTE FOR ANXIETY:  We have been implicitly measuring the nine emotions related to consumption for 10 years now and this data has provided us with a ‘resting’ emotional profile for the Australian public.  When the Covid-19 crisis began we saw an intense negative shift on all emotions. Over the last 7 weeks we have seen Australians adapt and our emotional profile has steadily returned to close to pre-Covid19 status.  Except for anxiety.  Anxiety remains at heightened levels, and we can only hypothesis that this emotion remains heightened because our concern focus has shifted from our health to the economy and our livelihoods.

What can brands do to help alleviate customers’ concerns?  How might the offer pivot?  How might the experience or messaging provide some kind of antidote for anxiety?

The supermarket category is a fertile learning ground on this topic as we have seen brands rapidly rethink and reorient to make changes in experience and messaging for shoppers. The result has been  reflected in improved loyalty and advocacy.  This is a positive marketing story.

  • HOW QUICKLY WE ARE CHANGING:  Our minds spin when we reflect on the Normality Index data and observe how quickly these metrics are changing.   Ordinarily as consumer and market researchers we would recommend brands review their choice drivers model every two years or so because behaviour doesn’t change much unless there is some kind of catalyst, some kind of shock to the system.  Well, we’ve had one almighty shock.

    How should organisations act on these changes?   First we need to identify the changes and then understand them, for this we are using anthropologically grounded techniques.  Then these changes need to be quantified so we can understand both impact in market and our own brand’s performance on those drivers to inform how we respond.

    This is not noise.  These are signals.  And we strongly urge organisations to stop and observe, reorient and rethink.