Consumers expect kindness, honesty, humanity and vulnerability from brands according to The Age of Empathy, a new report from The Australia Project, a benchmark study from The Lab Insight & Strategy that tracks the values of Australians.
It found the nation is shifting away from individual-oriented values such as resilience and knowledge to community-minded values such as open-mindedness, companionship and loyalty.
Skyrocketing to second spot on The Top 10 Australian values tracker, behind honesty, is empathy, up 46 per cent since 2017, accelerated by the turbulent chaos and uncertainty of pandemic living.
Australians are increasingly holding brands to account with The Age of Empathy reporting 75 per cent of Australians agree that “it’s not good enough for brands to just make money; they need to do some good in the world”.
The report found the opportunity for brands to evolve in line with Australian values lay within the Four Dimensions of Empathy.
The Lab Insight & Strategy Executive Director Rebecca Brody said the Four Dimensions of Empathy presented unlimited possibilities for brand elevation and evolution.
“It could mean shaking up your category, getting real with your audience, transforming the experience you offer customers or reframing how you engage your staff,” she said.
“The Age of Empathy pulls out industry-leading examples of real brands demonstrating the Four Dimensions of Empathy, from Apple overhauling its in-store experience to McDonald’s ‘Welcome to My World’ advertising campaign to Lego giving young people a voice at the COP26 climate change summit.”
1. On my wavelength
This dimension speaks to relatability, brands showing clients they understand them, speak the same language and are there to help them make sense of the world through:
• Ongoing dialogue
• Having your customers’ back
• Sensitivity and respect
2. Feel the human-ness
Steeped in emotional intensity, this dimension permits and encourages vulnerability, spotlights untold stories and creates space for customers’ feelings through:
• Emotional intelligence
• Recognising the full spectrum of experience
• Leading with emotion to connect as humans
3. No assumptions
Infused with positivity, this dimension champions open-mindedness and subverts stereotypes through:
• Checking judgements at the door
• A ‘listen first, judge later’ approach
• Making space for customers to show the way
4. Caring and kind
Demonstrations of true support and visible acts of kindness are a hallmark of this dimension which brands can put into action by:
• Offering comfort and respite
• Providing hands-on support
• Contributing to the wider socio, political and environmental world
Ms Brody said The Age of Empathy findings gave brands the power to build understanding, unlock emotional intelligence and create meaningful change.
“Brands have long been expected to play their part and use their influence and platform to make a positive impact on society,” she continued.
“But The Australia Project shows consumers have never been more cynical than they are now.
“It’s no longer enough for a brand to simply show up or put in a token effort because consumers will call them out.
“The Age of Empathy clearly demonstrates the power in leaning into empathy when it comes to brand behaviour.”
The Australia Project is a multi-lens study powered by The Lab Insight & Strategy, drawing data from a variety of sources including AI analysis, subject area experts and thousands of everyday Australians.
The Age of Empathy was compiled using data extracted from The Australia Project’s Benchmark Study of 1500 Australians, eight Consumer Diaries, Lab AI Cultural Intelligence analysis of more than 150,000 online articles and 10 years of archived findings.
The Lab Insight & Strategy uses The Australia Project findings to help clients understand people, create business strategies, innovate and disrupt categories and customer journeys.
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