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Understanding the Three Post-Pandemic Personas—and How to Connect to Each

“The new normal.” “It’s business, unusual.” No matter what industry you’re in, sentiments like these are the new company line. While there are a number of ways you need to adjust how you do business, one of the biggest—and most financially impactful—readjustment centers around your marketing efforts. While COVID-19 messaging has been decreasing in tandem with the pandemic climate, you can’t afford to simply revisit pre-COVID tactics. The world has changed, and with it, your targets. 

With consumer sentiment ranging from cautious optimism and resigned resilience to downright fear, there are essentially three different post-pandemic personas according to trendsetting firm WGSN: the radical accepters, settlers and new optimists.

Each group has experienced the pandemic differently and, as a result, will take away new and varying values, expectations and spending habits that directly impact how—and how well—marketers connect with them.

Radical accepters crave simplicity.

In response to these uncertain times, this group is looking to simplicity and to “radical acceptance”—coping with the “new normal” by accepting those things in life that they are powerless to change.

Largely made up of Millennials and Gen Z, this combined demographic—brought up on the principles of self-improvement and productivity—is now retooling in favor of self-acceptance and relaxation. Able to change only themselves, they’re into self-care and self-help (a potential boon for post-grad educators and financial advisers) and looking for brands to deliver soothing experiences, and an overall sense of calm in a world that appears to have gone at least slightly mad.

  • This target is immediately overwhelmed by product pushes, so marketers have a better chance of connecting with them by delivering the simplicity they crave. Use a less-is-more approach in your messaging and delivery channels (micro-videos, anyone?); focus on key product attributes, information and simple paths to conversion.

Settlers clearly know what’s important.

These consumers are responding to our current environment by setting definitive boundaries: They’re drawing clear lines between work and play (not so easy when so many are still doing both at home) and between what they believe is important—and what isn’t.

What’s really important to this group—which is largely made up of Millennials and Gen Xers—is what’s good for our community overall. They believe in shopping local and supporting initiatives that improve the environment, economy and humanity. 

  • They respond best to brands that share their values; those that have a demonstrated track record of giving back to causes they support (and steer clear of those they perceive as being anything but authentic in their beliefs). They also respond well to peer-to-peer platforms and social groups that share their mindset.

New optimists want to experience it all.

This group is made up of individuals across all demographics who share the common belief that life is meant to be enjoyed above all else. 

Considered to be “joyful activists” who prioritize adventure and socializing (and are ready to do so), they’re “committed to bucking stereotypes and celebrating the process of aging,” according to WGSN, and tend to connect with brands that fly in the face of what they deem our “youth-obsessed culture.” 

  • Eager to connect by any means, this group embraces the latest technical tools, like augmented and virtual reality, that enable them to tour facilities, manage processes or buy products at their convenience. They also seek the feedback of others, so it’s important that marketers make experiences and content shareable and proactively manage their online reviews (including encouraging positive ones). 

With such diverse groups, how do you market to them simultaneously? You don’t.

Whether you’re in the business of recruiting college students, marketing financial products or driving in patients, your target “customers”—and your relationships with them—are in a fragile state, thanks to COVID. That’s why it is more important than ever to identify the prevalence of each of these three groups among your market—and how to market to each. 

Contact us to find out more about AW Actionable Insights, the customized research, discovery and strategic action plan that can help you figure it out.

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