Move over Kardashians, we want our local heroes now

just_eatThe days when consumers hang on every whim of Cristiano Ronaldo, Ariana Grande and the Kardashians are drawing to a close, with money and celebrity status set to become less influential in a post-pandemic world, compared to admirable acts and endorsements from “new heroes”.

This is according to a new global study, The Value Shift Report, published today by Hall & Partners, the Omnicom-owned strategic brand consultancy which identifies how consumers around the world have reassessed what they value and changed dramatically many of their attitudes during Covid-19.

During the pandemic, local heroes, such as volunteers, shop workers, NHS staff and other key workers, such as takeaway food and restaurant delivery riders, stole the spotlight from many celebrities who maintained their luxurious lifestyles.

The trend in supporting these community heroes is highlighted by Just Eat head of insight Rufus Weston, who said: “Our couriers are now seen as essential workers. We have reports of people clapping them spontaneously in the street and we know that couriers are getting tipped like never before.”

Covid has also lifted the glossy veil on hollow gestures and brand endorsements from celebrities. The shift to ‘new heroes’ ranked fourth out of the 15 global value shifts identified in the global study, conducted among 20,000 consumers across 10 countries.

Nearly two-thirds (65%) of consumers stated they respected people who contributed something positive and regarded them as their heroes during the pandemic, rather than famous celebrities who were used to endorse brands simply because of their popularity and status. Of these, 70% were older (35+ years) compared to 57% of younger generations (18- to 34-year-olds).

Furthermore, three-fifths (60%) of respondents said it was important for people to be more open, empathetic and real, showing that they understand how people feel. This was combined with increased support for backing their local communities and revealed they are more inclined to buy local brands. Some 86% of all respondents said we must support local businesses as lockdowns lift.

Forced by a rapid shift in consumer values following Covid, many brands are listening to these new consumer trends identified in the research, including the reframing of safety when buying products or services, avoiding creating frivolous promises and the increased desire for sustainability, social equality, and fairness.

And, as sustainability becomes even more integral to how consumers wish to live their lives, brands will be expected to demonstrate their role in this shared responsibility. Protecting the environment and working together towards a more sustainable future was a top priority and was ranked as the number one value (69%).

In addition, materialism is giving rise to more indulgent and hedonistic experiential moments as more younger consumers value ‘now moments’ rather than planning ahead in what is viewed as an unpredictable future.

More than half of all consumers (51%) said they are more focussed on the simple pleasures in life as we gradually emerge from lockdown, while 52% said they now focus on what they need and care less about frivolous things, seeing excess as unnecessary overindulgence.

Consumers have also adopted a more cautious, risk-free attitude to safety, health, and hygiene. Safety is likely to be factored into every product, service, and brand. Immunity to risk, and personal space will now be the new luxuries, the report predicts, and there will be more cautious living and attention given to reducing risk in daily life. Brands will need to satisfy a changed desire within consumers for removing risk and feeling protected.

Meanwhile, the study predicts that young people will define our values for decades to come. More than 70% of 18– to 34-year-olds said they are now trying new things and interacting with the world in different ways, compared to 54% of 45+ year-olds.

Some 75% of younger consumers (18–34-year-olds) said businesses should take greater responsibility and do more to create a better and fairer world for everyone.

A new sense of patriotism has also emerged, with 66% saying they are proud of their country and where they live. New values will lead consumers to care more about how patriotic choices can build a better tomorrow for everyone.
Home is important – Slightly more men (50%) than women (45%) agreed that their home is important to them and represents who they are.

Hall & Partners global chief executive Vanella Jackson said: “The halo effect of a celebrity will remain an effective way to create a desired brand image. However, with a real shift in consumer values post-Covid, the celebrities and heroes that will resonate most is likely to change. We expect to see more everyday heroes, represented by key workers and ordinary members of society as brand champions. They should be easy to identify, authentic and ideally be local brand ambassadors.”

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