How brands can find their meaningful roles in a world turned upside down

COVID maslow 26

Since its introduction in 1943, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has become the preeminent psychological tool for brand guardians to define the role their brand plays in peoples lives.

“How will the world change in a post-Covid society?"

We believe we will see rapid change, across society, that will be driven by three key drivers:

  1. A focus on the basic needs of individuals and family unit
  2. Heightened concern over wellbeing
  3. Rapid change in the speed of digital transformation across all industries

We will consider what really matters in life


In a survey made by McCann Truth Central, users were asked what potential upsides and benefits would come from the coronavirus / COVID-19. The results displayed in the graph to the right, shows the percentage of respondents who reported an increased consideration of what really matters in life, per country.

COVID land 19

What matters

We will emerge from self-imposed isolation with a changed view on family connections, working and learning from home and an appreciation for the great outdoors.

When it comes to brands and their purpose, there will be a collective reassessment of our public, professional, and personal lives. Brands, businesses, and organizations, across all categories, will need to reframe their value to their customers.

Globally, most people are trying to do their part by taking a range of precautions in response to virus fears



of people globally say they're washing their hands regularly and using hand sanitizer.


of people globally are staying away from public places.


of people globally say they’re tried to boost their immune system.


of people globally are calling family members to inform and update them.

Basic needs

Concerns over the air we breathe and the ability to secure basic food supplies, will continue post-pandemic. Brands involved in the supply of food will see newfound respect and the opportunity to connect with their customers in new ways.

  • Healthfood brands will flourish, as well as traditional brands that can incorporate added health benefits and ingredients (or perhaps reduce unhealthier elements).

  • Grocery brands that rapidly accelerate their customers ability to access them remotely, through home delivery as, consumers have become both reliant upon, and familiar with new purchasing methods.

Global top five possible benefits of Covid-19



We will consider what really matters in life


We will spend more time with our families


Carbon emissions will go down


There will be lots of good memes


People will focus on their faith


This focus on health will extend to the planet, and the brands will be forced to accelerate their CSR plans to mitigate their impact on the climate. Individual newfound love for the great outdoors, and a simple walk in the countryside, will create huge societal pressure on industries to adopt rapid innovations and adoption of sustainable energy, including how they adapt the packaging and delivery of their brands to consumers.

Safety needs

A focus on an individuals’ security will come to the fore. Job security, the state of one’s personal finances will impact how banks and investment advisors engage with their customers and a newfound interest in insurance will see a resurgence of interest in bigger, stable companies and fintech / startups will most likely be avoided.

Public services, most notably healthcare, have shown the role of governments in their best light. Brands in the healthcare and wellness space will flourish and opportunities abound for these brands to connect with their customers in new ways.

Trusting information will have a new- found focus and a shift back to traditionally trusted mainstream media will continue.

Based on the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report news organizations are seen as the most-relied on information source. The below graph shows the percentage of respondents who are getting most of their information about the virus from each source.

COVID edelman 24

Post Corona, we will all be survivors, in the same way past generations survived war.

Social needs / belonging

There will be a collective reappraisal of social and economic life and it will impact the role that brands and businesses can play in people’s lives.

We believe the role of the celebrity will diminish, but collective activity (sports teams, clubs, etc) will flourish. Doctors & scientists will be the new heroes, and knowledge and expertise, the new cool.


In the post-Covid world, consumers will be wary of being seen to be too flash, or even too individualistic. A designer handbag, or bigger apartment, will feel less important that the wellbeing of the family.

Brands will have to navigate their way through this and re-evaluate the role they play in their customers’ life. Companies like LVMH have been given great credit for converting their perfume manufacturing to sanitisers. We will see if this shows long-term brand benefit (we would guess yes).


The importance of a meaningful role



of people worldwide believe global brands have the power to make the world better.


thing a brand should do: “Help me stay happy, healthy and physically active.”


of people worldwide are open to brands playing a broader role in society.


The good news for brands is that consumers look to them for guidance, advice and comfort. Brands that embrace the change, help their customers through technology adaptation, use of e-and a-commerce and improving their sense of wellness will thrive.


We believe that it is time to be proactive and get ready for your customers as they emerge from physical and emotional hibernation.

Brand provocation

A systematic plan that answers the following questions should help you get ready for what comes next.


What have you heard and read about your customer and your industry? Rapidly develop a view of your changed customer, their needs and their attitudes towards your industry and brand.

Outline the implications for your brand or service in these changing times. Does your brands role in consumers lives need to change? Is it a meaningful role? How can your brand help your consumers in this “new normal”


Does your marketing and communications help in this new normal? Are you helping and guiding? Or are you simply trying to sell?

Does your plan reflect the changes in media habits and channels?


Leave room for manoeuvre. Give yourself and your team the space and chance to adapt as things change. Move in iterative delivery cycles and be agile.