Why a critical consumer is a blessing for business?
The pandemic crisis caught Romanians in the midst of a deeply transformative period. In the 2010-2019 decade, Romanians had begun a gradual (but sure) process of emotional and cultural healing, the center of which was building a vision that could bring prosperity to a society that was wounded and tried by past events, but was now choosing to look to the future with confidence and hope. In a way, the pandemic came about just as we were dealing with a sort of emotional adolescence, just as we sought to mature in values and attitudes.
As expected after any crisis, but even more so after a crisis with a strong emotional impact (such as the one generated by the pandemic), external pressures accentuated the internal process of redefining one's own individuality and the Romanians' approach to life. Difficult challenges can cause trauma and regression in some respects, but they also have the potential to accelerate the growth of societies and open up new horizons.
No wonder, then, that we are entering 2022 with a series of evolutions that may seem conflicting - on the one hand, Romanians are getting better and better with themselves, on an individual level, they have learned more about their own needs, have set more relevant goals and priorities and learned to rely on themselves to be successful. But, on the other hand, the Romanian society is at a turning point, where it is forced to redefine the cooperation and collaboration of individuals in order to overcome blockages and achieve progress.
Perhaps one of the most important leaps that Romanians have made in terms of mentality after this period is the increasing use of critical thinking, as a tool for protection and personal development.
This exercise helped them to achieve a higher level of internal coherence, but also placed them in more tense relationships with the outside environment. Many tended to be generally more critical of the information they received from outside, in an attempt to do what they perceived as the safest choice for themselves and their loved ones. More and more people base their opinions and choices on a process of documenting, searching for alternative sources of information. Of course, the development of critical thinking to the point where it generates positive individual and social change involves long-term exercise, rigor, and education, as well as an informational climate based on fairness and transparency. But the increased willingness that Romanians have to form their own opinions and "think with their own heads" can prove to be an important asset in their evolution.
In relation to brands, consumers are also becoming increasingly critical. For example, 4 out of 10 Romanians choose a product / service with more care and discernment so that it meets their expectations regarding the quality, transparency and honesty of the brand, and just as many avoid buying brands that do not keep their promises, caring for both their consumers and their employees. There is also an increase in pressure on brands and the expectation that they will produce significant positive changes in society - for example, almost half of Romanians choose to consume / use products & brands that are involved in solving various social problems.
But being critical is not necessarily a bad thing - we see that people are also more open to giving their feedback, which means at the same time that they are more attentive and less passive, including in terms of their relationship with brands. A critical consumer who truly believes in a brand can offer a new kind of loyalty and advocacy – one generated by a conscious and deeply assumed choice.
Given the changes they have experienced on an individual and social level, people expect brands to go through a similar process of redefinition and reconstruction. What they need is a deeper and more authentic type of relationship with brands that resonates with the humanity they rediscovered in themselves. The ingredients of success for brands in the future could be:
- To always be CONNECTED, part of people's lives, attentive both to the mental and spiritual needs of consumers, and to the physical, tangible space. Online is effective, but not enough - offline experiences build lasting relationships.
- To act SMART, being a source of motivation and progress, coming up with solutions to help manage and overcome the strong tensions that arise at the individual and social level, facilitating the process of "growth“
- To behave MATURELY, being role models, exercising their power and leadership in a wise, responsible and assumed way, without superficiality.
- To be AUTHENTIC - reliable partners, encompassing fairness, transparency, and honesty as core values that make up the foundation without which a brand can not build for the future