Q4 is usually the most predictable time of the year but in 2020 everything is different and a new McKinney report says businesses will have to navigate a marketplace that is exceptional in every way.

In “Welcome to the Shit Show”, McKinney analysts say US consumers feel, perhaps unsurprisingly, “restricted, conflicted and overwhelmed”. However, despite concerns about planning for a holiday season amidst a pandemic, consumers are placing greater significance around the holidays this year and aim to make the time extra special.

Respondents to McKinney’s survey reveal they are faced with huge personal stresses and challenges. For example, they are worrying about protecting family and friends from COVID-19, but at the same time wanting to hug them; and wanting to support small businesses, but, in order to minimise human contact, are doing more shopping online.

The study suggests that people across the political spectrum, as well as ethnic groups, all feel more or less equally concerned about the state of political division and social unrest in America.

Analysts pose the question: how can brands help?

Key among suggestions is for brands to focus on alleviating these feelings of being restricted, conflicted and overwhelmed, says the report. Brands should concentrate on two areas:

• making consumers feel “just a little better”, which will deliver both growth and loyalty; and

• pursuing actions rather than ads: actions that focus on customer experience.

The study shows that most people are grappling with the same, mostly negative, feelings and the same anxieties. However, parents, people living outside cities, and older people feel the strongest concerns about political divisions as well as social unrest connected with race. Most people do not see things getting better by the end of the year, although, if you are male, you are likely to feel at least a little more optimistic.

McKinney analysts suggest brands need to find ways of making consumers feel more in control, more resolved and less burdened, concluding that even small successes will yield results seen in growth and loyalty.

Sourced from McKinney