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The Era of The Mindful Consumer

Published 17 Sep 2021 3 minute read

Strategic Thinking
Select Child

A consumer revolution is quietly taking place.

You won’t see people shouting about it in the shopping aisles, but it’s happening now and creating new behaviours that are significantly impacting brands and businesses and calling for immediate action.

In the wake of major global events including the global pandemic, #blacklivesmatter and the environment crisis, we are feeling more vulnerable (around health, financial stability and privacy) and have become increasingly mindful of our own health, the wellbeing of our family and that of the planet, and we’re reshaping how we shop, eat and travel, and the brands we trust and let into our lives.

Welcome to the era of The Mindful Consumer.

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The driving force behind this movement, as research has shown, is a desire to improve how we look after ourselves and our environment. The mindful consumption era marks a subtle shift in how we live, based on the acknowledgement that the health of our planet, our body and minds, society and our finances are precious.

We are now consciously modifying our behaviour when it comes to the products and services we buy and consume, and the everyday choices we make. We are breaking free from habitual purchases we made in the past and — thanks to the ease and convenience the internet affords — looking at our options with fresh eyes and renewed vigour.

Packaging, washing detergents, dairy, meat, sugar, vehicle fuels and even clothes are among those products we are beginning to reconsider our consumption of.

There are some very real and ‘burning’ considerations for brands, not least that 48% of consumers were making a conscious effort to buy less stuff!
But there are other concerns top of our minds right now. Diversity, transparency and trust are also informing the decisions and behaviours of  The Mindful Consumer.

There’s an abundance of research calling out the seismic shifts marketers and business leaders simply cannot ignore. 65% of people would feel more favourable about a brand that promotes diversity. More than half of consumers surveyed say ‘whether you trust the company that owns the brand or brand that makes the product’ is the second most important factor when purchasing a new brand. Trust is second only to price.

It's all of our problem, not just consumers

Do those who work on brand strategy assume they are empowered to join the dots between their everyday jobs and the climate emergency? Or do they believe that there is a conflict of interest between what they think privately and what they are required to do at work?

Can we continue to assume that people are not prepared to repair and re-use rather than buy something new?

Brands and business leaders face heightened demands from The Mindful Consumer to do, and not just say, more, solving both individual needs and societal challenges — this is new territory for many.

An issue of trust

PR spin and cheap talk isn’t sufficient, nor does it stick with consumers any more. You must move from storytelling to what we call story-doing. Failure to do so will - through deep inspection by The Mindful Consumer - result in being called out, boycotted or, as the younger generate call it, cancelled.

High-profile breaches of consumer trust (like those seen at Facebook) have led to demands for authenticity, with brands that fail to openly connect on social media and through other digital methods missing the opportunity to be authentic and earn consumer’s trust and loyalty.

Put simply, to win over the hearts and minds of The Mindful Consumer, brands must convince them they are trustworthy and authentic.


The future is being shaped by The Mindful Consumer as we speak. To avoid losing relevance, brands need to attain a state of future-readiness that rests on five pillars; Inclusion, Sustainability, Transparency, Trust and Authenticity, and Customer-centricity.

Future-readiness is driven by fear, pain or a burning ambition to do better and make a difference to the wider world we operate in. It is fueled by The Mindful Consumer’s needs and wants, calling for deep contextual insight and heightened levels of empathy and focus.

Knowing when, where and how a brand or business should operate requires careful consideration. First and foremost, brands must adopt a customer-centric model and an outside-in approach to decision-making and operations. You need a nuanced understanding of the permission space and of the consumers you want to be loyal to your brand. This has never been more critical to meeting expectations.

Mind the say-do gap

To be future-ready, brands need to understand the wants and needs, and motivations, of The Mindful Consumer they seek to serve and support. This is where market research as a very powerful tool in the organisation’s toolkit comes into play.

There is, however, an important gap that marketers and business leaders need to know about before they make decisions. It’s known simply as the Say-Do gap and happens when what people say they do turns out to be different to what they actually do.

There are a number of specific research tools and methods that address this gap by surfacing insight into the biases, irrationalities and unconscious triggers at play. These include the capture and analysis of behavioural data and use of social psychology and behavioural economics.

We help brands and organisations do better research and get future-ready.  Read more about our insight services or speak to one of our strategists today.

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