In normal times, marketers try to discern customer motivations in order to create marketing that will position their product as a way to fulfill those needs. Products and services have both a functional and a socio-emotional component. The functional component relates to the immediate use of the product. For example, if I am hungry, I need food.
The socio-emotional component relates to how the product makes me feel internally or appear to others. In the food example, I may choose to eat a salad when dining with friends because I want them to think I make healthy choices. Or I may decide to eat mac and cheese because I am feeling stressed about COVID-19 and want some comfort food to feel secure.
Today, this marketing process remains the same, but customer motivations have shifted significantly. What motivated customers in the past may not work now.
Identify the Gap
Customer motivations exist in the gap between what I have/feel now and what I ideally want to have/feel. In early April of this year, German researchers asked people about what they wished for in order to uncover this gap. Going back to the food example, I am hungry now and I want to feel full. In regard to the socio-emotional aspect, I am feeling insecure now and want the approval of friends for my healthy choices.
What People Crave Now
The researchers found that the primary motivational themes in the age of COVID-19 are:
- Safety (remaining uninfected, financial security, etc.)
- Sociability (feeling of community, connecting with friends and family)
- Optimism (feeling at ease, planning for a positive future)
- Joy (zest for life, appreciation)
- Independence (freedom of movement, ability to go my own way)
Differences by Age
Most age groups shared these broad categories, with the exception of the youngest, Gen Z. This group, age 16-22 are primarily looking for adventure, thrill and innovation and less concerned with security and being at ease compared to other generations.
Here are the driving motivations and least compelling motivations by generation:
|Gen Z (16-22)||Adventure, thrill||Caring, protection|
|Millennials (23-38 )||Inspiration, structure||Protection, feeling carefree|
|Gen X (39-49)||Sense of community, discovery||Discipline, giving my best|
|Boomers (50-69 )||Be unconcerned, be at ease||Thrill, adventure|
Pro Creative can help you decide how to use these customer motivations to enhance your brand through creative marketing communication.