Across 71 countries, school kids have pledged support to Greta Thunberg. They demand a better world for themselves through immediate interventions against climate change. Millennials, meanwhile, have sworn themselves off buying houses and cars and are instead choosing shared homes and vehicles.

Near-sighted mindless consumption seems to be declining; replaced by an emergent aware enjoyer of goods and services. This new consumer can visualize the web of connections around their object of fascination. They are driven not by the lust of consumption but guided by responsible enjoyment. They for instance, understand that their love for the brew is at odds with the small coffee grower who is being exploited or with the whale watcher who is trying to prevent their death from plastic, that comes from our shopping sprees.

Brands need to re-think their belief systems; if they intend to forge bonds with this audience. We have moved into a post-image world. Seductive brand image may prove to be impotent in inventing desire and launching a million products into shopping bags; to be taken back home and devoured to make our incomplete selves better and move closer to the Joneses.

Increasingly, brands today need to stand for a shared belief that are backed by actions that attend to their ecosystem.  It signals, therefore, that the brand as an ‘idea’ one buys-in to needs to be less individualistic and more communal. It needs to be a co-owned belief that speaks to the entire ecosystem as it were: the raw material supplier, the factory worker, the vendor, the planet, the farmer, the NGOs, the government, etc. 

We see this kind of thinking reflected in the shared belief of Walls ice-cream that speaks of ‘Happiness for all’ (and not just the joy of ice-cream); as it creates employment opportunities for marginalized street vendor

 

Moyee coffee calling itself Fair-chain coffee uses blockchain technology; so, you can see how the dollars from your coffee purchase ends up into the hands of the coffee grower

 

 

Tony Chocolonely sheds light on the unfairness of the chocolate trade for the poor harvesters. It defines its brand not on sensorial pleasure but the heightened joy of enjoying a responsible product. This warmth reaches places other chocolates don’t reach.

 

 

This shift in thinking demands that we no longer identify the people we serve as a singular entity but visualize all the actors in the ecosystem, replete with their worries and dilemmas.  Brands today should acknowledge that they don’t just satisfy individual desire but resolve collective dreams. It is time to shift mental mode of brand shaping from catering to individual desire to supporting shared beliefs. This would be a good thing to do.

 

By: Subodh Deshpande
Partner & Business Humanizer