The Future of Branding – Empathy takes center stage.

It’s safe to say it’s been a tough few years for everyone.

A global pandemic, economic uncertainty, geo-political instability, racial and social inequality, the list goes on. But as we look to rebound from one of the most challenging times in modern history, brands that lead with empathy, and deliver it with action, will win the hearts and minds of customers and colleagues.

In particular, Gen Zers. Astonishingly, Gen Z already make up 40% of all global consumers, and by 2031 the generation will earn more than Millennials, making them a substantial economic force. That means that understanding this generation is critical to retailers and brands that want to gain their loyalty.

There is now an opportunity for brands to connect with this audience and build affinity in a transformative way. Gen Z prioritises authenticity. Building genuine connectivity will help drive authentic communication channels and intuitive strategies that bring brands and Gen Z consumers together – creating stories and communities that become part of the brand ecosystem.

Compared to other generations, Gen Z is more vocal when it comes to social justice issues, and they place more importance on a brand’s authenticity and transparency.

That means Gen Z shoppers care about the ethics of a company in addition to their products.

While many retailers have stepped up their diversity and climate change initiatives over the past few years, being transparent and consistent with these efforts and sharing values with Gen Zers will become even more critical over time and it will the companies that can demonstrate purpose when connecting with Gen Z will earn true engagement and loyalty.

The days of merely talking about doing good in the world are over. “For-profit” organisations need to integrate a “not-for-profit” mindset into the core of their brand-building strategies and experiences. Because when your brand doesn’t show empathy towards your audience or customers, you’re losing business.

Empathetic marketing is the way forward.

To become more empathetic you need to step into your customers’ shoes to better understand what they’re experiencing. Then you can give them exactly what they want or need to live better lives.

Try to not fall into the trap of seeing your audience as numbers – or data points – instead of individuals with real names and needs because although data has revolutionised the world of marketing, it isn’t the only thing that matters.

Being overly data-centric can create a disconnect. A sort of “collective amnesia.” Marketers often lose the proper perspective, which hinders their ability to empathise and build connections.

Data doesn’t always necessarily lead to authentic connections. Understanding your customer does that. That’s why it’s critical to infuse empathy into marketing – to deliver a truly customer-centric approach.