What do brands have to do with people’s new year’s resolution? Many would think not much, to be honest. Because humans are overly optimistic when it comes to the turning of a calendar. Because their resolutions often get thrown out of the window once the new year fever is cooled off. The tradition of setting unattainable new year’s resolutions is one of those things people rarely learn to improve. But, what if, this year, we actually learn something?

2020 was not easy for the majority of us. The pandemic has impacted every human being one way or another, in a manner and magnitude that we would not forget for quite some time. What if this experience taught us to approach new year’s resolutions differently? Because if it did, there are clear implications for brands who want to play a more meaningful role in the lives of the people they serve this year.

Three key things we learn when we set out to use social listening, and explore whether or how people’s resolutions have changed this year compared to the last:

A significant larger amount of people are keeping it bluntly real this year

Contrary to the popular belief that most people are obsessed with aiming big every new year, we found out that only 30% of total resolutions-related posts on social media in 2020 had to do with something big, audacious, or out-of-the-world. Tellingly, this figure has dropped by half in 2021. In other words, we now witness the overwhelming majority of 84% total resolutions evolving around improving the little things that really matter to our lives. Our goals are no longer centered around another promotion, a new house, or a big fat road trip around Europe. 2021 is about doing more of what we truly love, being real about who we are, spending more time with our family, and maintaining that one good habit in our everyday routine.

There are four major themes around what people want to do in 2021, all tied under an overarching desire to make the most out of life.

Ranking from the most popular theme to the least are: (1) To spread more love in the world, (2) to act on what I want, (3) to appreciate what I have, (4) to strive to survive. The first two themes combined already account for almost 70 percent of social mentions and as such, are important for brands to understand.

One the one hand, people want to actively cultivate and spread love to ignite collective healing. To go beyond our immediate circles, to show care, and be kind because we believe love can get us through. We want to mobilize and take advantage of the power of community in tough times. To find our gangs, stick to them, contribute whatever we can and get back the support we need.

On the other hand, people want to explore and liberate their own selves. We want to fully enjoy this beautiful but finite life that we have. We want to take more risks and make changes that might seem ridiculous in the past. Maybe, we won’t be so strict with our savings this year. Maybe, we will just pick up that guitar and record a 30-day progress challenge. We want to force ourselves out of our comfort zones, try new things, and act on what we want sooner than later. Because life is unpredictable and we need to make sure that we make the most out of it.

Brands will gain relevance when they tune into these fundamental shifts in perspectives and desires

(1) Community is no longer seen as the cherry on top, adding flavor to our life. After a prolonged period of social distancing, people now realize that belonging to a community is powerful and crucial for their survival. For brands, this means more proactive effort and investment to facilitate community and foster platforms of connection will be crucial.

(2) To focus on ourselves used to mean more care and more investment to our inner needs so we can be happier. Now, it encompasses a genuine appreciation of all the strength we already have within us so we can persevere. This shift opens quite many opportunities for brands to step in and help people build resilience by untapping the power within themselves.

(3) The adventurer inside each of us used to think of life as packed of chances to explore the big wild world. Now, a year of not being out and about has enabled us to find the thrill of discovery from within ourselves, during the everyday moments pursuing tangible joy. This is great news for brands that want to inspire and nurture people’s creativity, enabling them to pursue adventures and find joy in their own home/ town/ city.

(4) During normal times, we tend to strive for ever betterment and advancement of ourselves for the sake of personal growth and satisfaction. Today, many of us invest time on ourselves not only to master skills, but more importantly, to become compelling and irresistable in the market. This development is already taken seriously by many brands offering courses and tutorials to support learning and improve competitiveness.

A call for brands to tune in and practice empathy this year

New year’s resolutions, as aspirational as they usually appear, are often rightfully taken with a grain of salt by brands and marketeers. But as we approach 2021 having all learnt something difficult from the recent past, we might want to lean in and listen more carefully to what people wish for and plan to do in the upcoming months. To train our empathy muscle and tune in with people’s resolutions this year is going to be crucial for brands. Because only in doing so, we can start doing something to meet people where they want to go and become more relevant in their lives. Especially in the hardest of times, when help is more than appreciated, do not miss out on an opportunity to connect meaningfully with the people you want to serve.

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If you are interested and would like to get the full presentation and brainstorm on how this can be applied to your brands, please reach out to us: linh@innatemotion.com femke@innatemotion.com nicholas@innatemotion.com meggan@innatemotion.com