This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Harnessing the Power
of the Tides


  The Herman Trend Alert

September 30, 2020

The Normal 2.0 Consumer

Ever since I read and wrote about Martin Lindstrom's research on the frightening photos used by cigarette companies actually promoting the sales of cancer sticks, I have been a fan of his insights. Lindstrom capitalizes on neuroscience to help his clients to brand and advertise effectively. This Herman Trend Alert focuses on insights Lindstrom provided recently.

A Brief Marketing Lesson
Ever since folks began looking at the business of marketing, they realized that major life events trigger purchases. Marketing people call those special times Points of Market Entry (POME). Lindstrom defines a POME as "a universal point where a customer segment becomes receptive to a whole new category of products and services." Until COVID-19, we had seven standard POMEs: the arrival of a baby, the first day in school for a child, his/her departure to college, the first post-school employment, moving out of the family home, getting married (otherwise known as New Household Formation), and retirement.

A Seismic Shift in the Marketing Universe
Not surprisingly, due to the profound effects COVID-19 has had on our psyches, we have seen the appearance of a new POME. Triggered by our isolation and lack of human in-person contact, people who never had them before are choosing to adopt pets. People are not only adopting dogs, but buying leashes, pet bowls, pet beds, pet toys, pet accessories, and even invisible fencing at a rate never seen before.

The Neuroscience Behind this Shift
Years ago, one professor of neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy Antonio Damasio, discovered that significant events have such an effect on our brains that they may even be seen on MRI scans. To describe these permanent changes, he coined the term "Somatic Marker" to signify that we had created new neural pathways which would make us not only see the world differently, but also exhibit new consumer patterns. For those who were looking, the signs were everywhere: people stopping to pet strangers' dogs more often than they did before, the increased rate at which people are sharing warm and fuzzy pictures and videos, and our obsessions to frequently disinfect our hands, even if we have been at home the entire time. In Lindstrom's words, "COVID-19 has created a negative Somatic Marker for all of us, opened an eighth point of market entry, and brought with it profound behavioral changes"---and a universal change of consumer patterns.

Wise Marketers will Capitalize on these New Consumer Patterns
Marketers know that satisfying emotional needs generates product and service sales. Look around you to find the significant unmet emotional needs. Start with who might be hurting the most, e.g., people with pre-existing conditions who are particularly susceptible to this novel coronavirus. What could you do to help alleviate some of the loneliness they might feel about seldom being able to leave their houses? Create an online check-in service, perhaps? Or think about how else you might connect with these folks who are craving connection right now. Unmet emotional needs---wherever and whenever we find them---mean business opportunities.

Next week: COVID-19's Winners and Losers
While your neighborhood restaurant and clothing stores have been suffering, other businesses are not only surviving, but thriving. Next week, we will explore those "lucky" and "unlucky" enterprises and mine the insights.

Special thanks to marketing icon Martin Lindstrom, recently named by TIME Magazine one of the "World's 100 Most Influential People."

© Copyright 1998- by The Herman Group, Inc. -- reproduction for publication is encouraged, with the following attribution: From "The Herman Trend Alert," by Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist. 1.336.210.3548 or To sign up, visit The Herman Trend Alert is a trademark of The Herman Group, Inc."

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