The Other Side

As our lives were turned upside down over the last 15 months, we had many conversations at Listen about what cultural shifts and consumer behaviors would emerge on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic. From working entirely via Zoom to navigating childcare at home to perfecting our morning cup of coffee, many of us picked up new rituals, routines, and habits to give us a sense of comfort and structure, despite uncertainty about how the situation would unfold. After many months of predicting the state of our post-COVID world, it’s hard to believe that we’re finally in the here and now as vaccinations have rolled out across the country and people are starting to resume their pre-pandemic activities. In the midst of transitioning to a new normal, I’ve been listening to conversations with family, friends, founders, and colleagues with an ear for how people are approaching their day-to-day lives to better understand how new (or pre-existing) wants, needs, and expectations might translate to opportunities for consumer brands.

When meeting entrepreneurs, we often ask what emotion(s) their brand elicits from their core audience, trying to get to the why vs. the what. So taking a page from this approach, rather than ask about the specific activities consumers plan to continue vs. let fade away, I’ve been tuning into what stands out in peoples’ emotional mindsets and as a result, have noticed a few broad themes that seem to ring true for many.

First, connection has become more important now than ever. Loneliness in the pandemic was real and consumers looked to new places for relief, leaving the door open for brands to build stronger communities and cultivate feelings of belonging among tribes. Brands that delivered likely created an emotional stickiness that will long outlive the pandemic as people have come to rely on their virtual communities (shoutout to Slumberkins for launching Camp Slumberkins).

Second, the past year has underscored the importance of approaching life with intention, creating space for brands to support consumers as they navigate significant personal topics such as relationships, mental and physical health, nutrition etc. (a few of our “Better You” pillars).

And third, I’ve found that people have become more in touch with (or perhaps just better able to communicate and act on) their personal and professional desires for forward momentum and growth, driving many to relocate, become homeowners, start families, shift careers, and launch companies. As we look to the future and do our best to identify the brands of tomorrow at Listen, we’re most compelled by entrepreneurs that are paying close attention to the ever evolving shifts in consumer behavior and fulfilling deeper emotional needs with their products, platforms, and communities. Sounds like a tall order… who’s up for the challenge?

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