Speaking at a Magnetic webinar recently Mary Portas, Chief Creative Officer, Portas takes a look at the commercial imperative and opportunity for change offered by the current Covid 19 pandemic.
If consumer culture as we know it isn’t completely dead, it’s certainly on life support.
Every business, retail or not, is facing the most volatile and challenging period we’ve known in decades.
But one thing is clear: digging our way out of the debt and recession sparked in so many countries by the pandemic is going to take some radical new thinking.
We’ve outrun the race to the bottom that saw the prioritisation of profit at any cost.
Right now, we’re in the kind of volatile flux that philosopher Gershom Scholem calls the ‘plastic hours’ – “moments when it is possible to act”.
And we must focus on making the most of the current opportunity to capitalise on demographic and commercial shifts that have been percolating under society’s surface for the past couple of decades.
We all witnessed the slow burn of environmental awareness suddenly ignite as Greta Thunberg inspired millions to take to the streets. The #MeToo movement of 2017 did the same for gender politics. More recently, Black Lives Matter has provoked worldwide activism and outrage.
Then came Covid-19, which has catalysed and crystallised all this significantly. Everyone, without exception, has undergone a fundamental emotional shift. We’ve seen mass introspection and a re-examination of how we live and want to live.
Globally, 77% of people now say they value decency in business as much as price and convenience. And they have the platforms, the voice, the access to information, the power to demand more from retail – all brands, in fact – and translate that into real buying behaviour.
This isn’t pinkie-in-the-air liberalism I’m describing here. It’s a commercial imperative.
In December 2019, I gave a Ted Talk on The Kindness Economy: a new way of doing business founded on three key tenets – business health, social progress plus a big dollop of brand magnetism.
Now it’s taken on an urgency even I couldn’t have foreseen less than a year ago.
Reshaping how we buy and sell to better reflect how we live today – and aspire to tomorrow – is not the stuff of an overnight pivot to layer a cynically constructed ‘purpose’ icing on your marketing cake.
This goes deep into every organisation, and demands a social progress measurement to hold us all to account – not an easy bedfellow with commercialism I know.
But it’s possible if we dare to think in more responsible ways.
The Kindness Economy is about replacing short-termism with a far more expansive and deeper vision for your business.
This shift to a new way of living, buying and selling is happening. Right now. And Covid has only accelerated it.
Watch as the new agile players rise to the top and old bastions fall (say goodbye Gap).
This is the beginning. And what we start to bring to life today has the possibility to create profound lasting change tomorrow.
Copies of Mary’s latest insight ‘The Kindness Report’ are available to buy here. Using the code MAGNETIC20 will get you a discount of 20%.
To read Claire Beale’s take outs from her discussion with Mary click here.