Post-2020 Marketing: Why Empathy Will Always Win

March 19, 2021

Empathy has always been an important aspect of marketing; 2020 made it indispensable.

Crises like the pandemic and global movements like the Black Lives Matter protests tested marketers’ agility – that is, the ability to understand quickly unfolding situations and respond to them appropriately.

And while agility is important, empathy became indispensable.

Now, as we navigate a post-2020 world, let’s look at examples of empathetic marketing, and three ways to make it part of your content marketing strategy.


Empathy is servitude

Empathetic marketing is more than understanding the customer’s perspective – it is the understanding that people don’t want to be sold to; they want to connect with a brand.

Empathetic marketing shifts the relationship between company and consumer. Instead of assuming people are naive shoppers who need to be “tricked” into buying something, empathetic marketing realizes that consumers are intelligent, and their informed choices will lead them to be loyal to the brand or company they trust the most. 

For example, rather than focusing on “outsmarting” your competitor or even your customer, an empathetic marketing approach focuses on the best way to serve your customer’s needs. After all, without customers, where would your business be?


Empathy is your best business move

Empathy isn’t just a feel-good technique. Continuously practicing empathy in marketing (not only in the face of crises) creates loyal customers who are primed to like your brand.

People trust brands because their agenda is clear. They want to sell you something, even when they’re creating helpful content. People are happy for a company to make money as long as they’re selling a worthy product and providing information that makes the customer feel good about their purchase.

We’ll go into more detail about transparency later in this article, but what’s important is that when customers know you have their interests at heart, they are more likely to become loyal customers.

Let’s take a look at three ways you can practice empathy in your marketing.


1. Education is empathy

When you provide reliable, helpful information, you show people that you want to help them. You don’t just want them to buy your skincare product; you want them to become skincare gurus and to trust your brand as both an expert and a peer in the space. 

Educating customers also projects you as a trustworthy source and more than an anonymous company; you become a guide for further expertise and someone worth returning to later.

There are many ways to incorporate education into your content marketing strategy, from educational blogs on your site, in-depth products pages, or even helpful TikToks and reels. 

Empathy in practice: Later 

Later, a SaaS Instagram planning platform does an excellent job at using education to practice empathy. 

Later understands its users’ frustrations with the Instagram algorithm and wants social media users to succeed as much as they do. They consistently educate followers on the latest algorithm updates and other social media hacks through clear, user-friendly content such as Instagram reels, IGTVs, blogs, and emails. 

Ultimately, they want their followers to purchase a subscription to their planning platform, but first, they establish trust by educating their potential customers.


2. Transparency is empathy

Customers want to buy things from brands they perceive to be trustworthy and honorable, and transparency is key to achieving that perception. In fact, according to research by Label Insight, 94% of those surveyed are more likely to be loyal to brands that demonstrate transparency in their marketing. 

Customers do not want to be tricked or fooled, and if there is something about your product that they are unsure about, they will figure it out one way or another. Anthropologie’s recent lack of transparency about stealing designs from an Indigenous-owned sustainable brand, Orenda Tribe, led to a revolt from customers and a demand for Anthropologie to give their profits from the shirt to an Indigenous cause. If transparency is not readily offered, consumers will demand it eventually.

Empathy in practice: Ritual Vitamins

Ritual Vitamins doesn’t just exemplify transparency now and then; they have made it core to their brand. Knowing that their audience cares about what they put in their bodies, Ritual Vitamins practices empathy by being transparent about their ingredients and processes. Potential buyers can determine what ingredients will be in their vitamins and where those ingredients are from just by scrolling through their product page.

Empathy in practice: Cocokind

Like Ritual Vitamins, Cocokind has made transparency an integral part of their brand personality. A self-proclaimed “conscious skincare company,” Cocokind regularly demonstrates transparency through its social media content. Knowing their Millennial and Generation-Z audience, they readily offer insight into the sustainability of their products and how their products are formulated.


3. Social impact storytelling is empathy

According to a 2021 survey, 74% of respondents are more likely to buy something from a brand after reading about the positive impact they’re having on the world.

The age of conscious consumerism is here, which is not something for marketers or companies to brush off. Companies don’t just need to do good; they need to be vocal about the good they’re doing so that consumers know about it.

The catch? You actually have to care. Remember, your brand has to be transparent to be empathetic, so your audience will know if it’s genuine or not.

Empathy in practice: Patagonia

If your company says they care about sustainability and the environment, be prepared to put your money where your mouth is like Patagonia, which pledges 1% of sales to preserve and restore the natural environment. Shoppers visiting Patagonia’s website instantly know of their commitment to sustainability and exactly what they are doing for the cause.

Empathy in practice: For Days

Like Patagonia, For Days has a mission that extends beyond making clothes. This up-and-coming clothing brand not only sells clothes but buys them back to recycle. For Days wants their consumers to think about how they are going to dispose of their clothes before they even buy them, demonstrating their empathy for customers who care about the environment (and for the environment itself).

Don’t just pretend to care – actually care.

At the end of the day, the easiest way to practice empathy in marketing is to actually care about your customers. Education, transparency, and social responsibility are secondary outcomes when you have your consumers’ best interests at heart. 

If you’re interested in learning how you can incorporate empathy into your marketing strategy, talk to the people who do it best. Request a free consultation, or follow us on Instagram! (@creativebstro) for free marketing tips!