What’s your brand empowerment play?

Author: Ashley Smith, Director of Research & Strategy

Here’s a brief dialogue that needs to be going on today between Australians and Brand Owners….

(Australians) – “I need to feel empowered right now, perhaps more than ever before”

(Soon to be) Successful Brand Owner – “Yes you can do it, and we will make you bigger, bolder and stronger”

How did I get here? At Sprout, we recently dipped our toe into the waters of COVID-19 related research initiatives.

Our approach to complement the body of existing tracking and monitoring work was to focus on implicit motivational needs as the foundation of our design. As many of you are no doubt aware, motivational needs compel humans to take action – they drive our behaviours.

In other words, what do Australians want to ‘feel more or less of’ right now at this stage of the COVID-19 Journey?

We learnt some surprising things. For instance, most Australians have already moved on from the motivational need for ‘security’ and associated brand communication around reassurance and information. If your messaging is still grounded in these elements you risk a lack of relevance, cut-through and ultimately inefficient spend.

With the actual focus night now on finances and rebuilding our lives – ‘Empowerment’ is the dominant motivational need for Australians!

Brand Implication – “move to activate higher order needs, specifically to focus on helping people feel empowered”

So how do we do this?

Our implicit method also yielded word associations for the motivational need in question. To deliver on Empowerment, Australians most want to feel:

  • Strong
  • Fearless
  • Free/Non-Restricted

This make sense. The desire for strength is a constant in our lives, yet the emergent coupling of strength with fearless takes into consideration the unprecedented scenario we find ourselves in now. It’s more than a generational thing, many of us (including boomers) have no life precedent here – its frightening. We crave empowerment to face the unknown. To manage our lives and work in different ways.

Freedom can be about literal imposed restrictions to our life structure (e.g. lockdowns, cancelling of events and rituals) but it can also tap into our sense of being in control of our lives in general – be it financial, new work or schooling practices etc.

Brand Implication- “making Empowerment ‘real’ is all about making Australians feel strong and capable by providing relevant support mechanisms”

Activating Empowerment for Brands

To make this even more Brand actionable we have broken the ‘marketing to’ aspect of Empowerment into strategic themes:

  1. “Gain Control” – Help people gain more control over aspects they couldn’t before. Many Australians must make smart decisions right now about household finances, arrangements and/or business kickstart planning going forward. Or remove restrictions to freedom – senior citizens gaining ‘control’ over the new challenging shopping experience through priority shopper hours, in-store protection and services.
  2. “You can do it” – ‘Fearless’ can be supported through delivering messaging that enables Australians to feel capable and competent in the face of the unknown. Lots of businesses have been flung into e-commerce mode or forced to adopt digital sales and marketing methods. Deliveroo stepped up to the plate by supporting many traditional restaurants to make a quick and less painful transition to online.
  3. “Expand Horizons” – the current crisis has forced career and workplace change on many, for others it may even be an opportune time to change professional tack by mastering new skills. This theme is about helping them develop new, or improve, a range of skills. Think adult education, upskilling, developing new income earning skillsets. (At the time of writing over 100,000 Australians have enrolled in free TAFE short courses).  BT’s most recent campaign was not about how amazing their tech and infrastructure was – it focused on teaching the British Public new digital skills (using their networks, of course).
  4. “Provide Strength” – we all need fuel for our Empowerment journey, now more than ever. Help Australians keep their body and mind up to the challenge. Many categories can play a role here, from food and drink through to coaching, wellness, fitness. Nike recently ‘did it’s part’ by making the premium part of its Nike exercise app free for 90 days.

My own personal Empowerment anecdote relates to my Health Provider. For over 60 days, I had been house-bound with my two wonderful but very ‘primary school’ boys simultaneously working, home-schooling and taking care of general home ‘stuff’. “Warning Captain – Energy Levels at 30% and dropping….”. A simple gesture by my Health Provider to give me free access to a professional workout and dietary programme ticked the ‘provide strength’ strategic theme above.

What’s your Brand’s Empowerment play right now? And how can you contribute to the opening dialogue with your customers – “Yes you can do it – and we will make you bigger, bolder and stronger”

Download Sprout’s Special Edition Mood of Australia Research – https://sproutstrategy.com.au/the-current-mood-of-australia-building-bonds-with-your-brand/