Feel good brands in a feel bad world

We live in unsettled times – what with the trials and tribulations of Brexit, the rise in crime, the pressures on the NHS and the collapse of the High Street. Shoppers have rarely felt so frustrated and depressed. And when shoppers feel down, it usually results in decreased sales for brands.

At times like this, people want to go places (physically, virtually or emotionally) to escape the frustration and mess of the everyday, and find a little boost of happiness. Chat to any architect and they’ll tell you that the kitchen, perceived as the most important room in the house for the last decade or so, has now been replaced in the affections of British families with the bathroom. It’s now seen as the place that they can lock the door, grab some me-time and leave the mobile phone behind for a few moments of happy headspace.

Perhaps counter-intuitively however, people feeling bad can actually be good news for brands because it provides them with the perfect opportunity to capitalise on people’s search for happiness. If a brand can generate a genuine feel good factor by making shoppers feel good about themselves (hedonistically or symbolically) by buying into a brand, then they’re much more likely to make the decision to purchase. Shoppers who develop an emotional attachment to a brand have a propensity to remain loyal long after the bad times pass.

“People align themselves with a brand that reflects what they see when they look in the mirror,” says Pierre Chandon, a professor of marketing at international business school INSEAD.

Here are a couple of ways that can brands attempt to make people feel good again…

Make people feel a part of something bigger.

This can be a very powerful strategy. A brand perceived as virtuous will imbue its shopper with that same virtue. It will lift the spirits of shoppers and consumers by helping them feel connected to a global good. An obvious example of this is the issue of sustainability, perhaps one of the biggest of society’s current concerns, and one which is now being addressed by a wide variety of forward thinking brands. A recent example is the 100% Recyclable Fairy Liquid bottle DECIDE created for P&G. By featuring a field of grass, the design triggers brand colour memories while clearly communicating its eco credentials. The proposition is all the more effective for being kept on brand via the introduction of first person styling to the tone of voice which talks to the shopper in the friendly manner associated with Fairy Liquid and so personalises the communication.

Transport people back to happier times.

Brands which have a heritage can trigger associations with good times. These psychological occurrences, or Proustian Memories as they’re called, typically help people remember childhood times of being worry-free. The brand identity DECIDE created for The Travelling Bee Co taps into just such memories with its light-hearted Winnie The Pooh style illustration of a beehive on wheels raising a smile and triggering flashbacks in the shopper of half-imagined childhood care-free days playing in a mythical countryside against a backdrop of bees buzzing lazily on long hot summer afternoons.

So in summary, with the right strategy in place, the bad times can be turned into good times for brands who capitalise on their potential to amp up the feel good factor and connect more effectively with shoppers on a positive emotional level injecting moments of happiness into their everyday life. That’s enough to put a smile on anyone’s face…