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How Brands & Retailers Provide Services & Resources To Support Their Communities’ Growth

How Brands & Retailers Provide Services & Resources To Support Their Communities' Growth

The innovative tools and emergent methods being deployed by businesses and brands to engage with an aspirational audience, drive loyalty, and improve lives. 

The premise and promise of both business and technology, beyond just making a profit, is to positively impact the lives of the average consumer, and the stakeholder populations they serve. As real customer lives become increasingly supported by a variety of interconnected solutions, the smartest brands are deploying powerful tools to help their target audience embrace positive purpose in all aspects of life. This aspirational marketing strategy aims to improve everyday life by providing consumers opportunities to learn, improve, and grow across areas like financial health, personal wellness, and through increased access to career opportunities and education. Within this beneficially-focused behavioral climate, companies and aspirational brands who leverage their scale and access to resources in order to help their customers reach their full potential are finding they can build loyal and engaged communities, while simultaneously establishing stronger consumer connections to core aspects of their business.

A deepening suite of tools, platforms, and programmatic solutions from businesses both big and small are allowing modern consumers to overcome the ever-present barriers behind positive behavioral change, increasing their individual motivation and accountability with built-in incentives and personalized positive reinforcement, as well as offering community support, skill-sharing, and collective feedback. This general shift by aspirational consumers from passive and reactive approaches to personal management, toward one that is supported, proactive, and even at-times automatic, can be seen across all age groups and audiences. Data-fueled, future-focused frameworks are supporting baseline goal-setting in both consumers’ personal and financial health, while curated coaching solutions and community skill-sharing approaches are being paired with personalized education to empower incremental long-term change that takes advantage of the holistic understandings arising around consumer wellness, fitness, and financial planning. 


Deep Dive with PSFK’s latest report… Engaging Customers Around Aspirations

In a new report on creating customer communities, the PSFK Research team explores the innovative tools and emergent methods being deployed by businesses and brands to engage with an aspirational audience, drive loyalty, and improve lives. To help our members better understand the trajectories at play in this increasingly important and valuable space, PSFK has identified 5 key trends powering the connection between core business propositions and aspirational consumer growth.


Changing Consumer Behaviors and Expectations Around Data Tracking and Feedback

Data-driven insights and performance tracking feedback are becoming the baseline both for companies to improve their services and for consumers to improve themselves. 

42% of US consumers said they used tools to measure fitness and track health-improvement goals.
Health Care Survey. Deloitte, 2020 

Wearables and the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) are enabling the healthcare industry and patients themselves to gather data and enhance preventive medical endeavors…By 2021, the global IoMT market is expected to reach $136.8 billion, and is expected to reach $332.672 billion by 2027.
Internet of Things in Healthcare Market by Component, Application, and End User. Allied Market Research, 2020. 

As consumers increasingly place trust in companies and brands, they are expecting retailers to provide greater value beyond the initial purchase.  

“A lot of the time, people place hopes on what will happen in the future without actually influencing it. So having an app that helps you with ideas and inspiration from people who know what they share, what they recommend, is super helpful — especially when it’s all about support.”
Alexander Nevedovsky, Founder of Alms

Purpose-driven companies are building a community-oriented ecosystem of educational services to help build a better future generation and secure long-lasting consumer relationships. 

Designing interactive and educational experiences with today’s youth in mind should be a priority in a world where 63% of 8-11 year olds say they use a phone, tablet, computer, or games console every day.
Kids These Days. GlobalWebIndex, 2021 


Wellness Coaching
To further support consumers’ health-based choices, brands and retailers are rolling out virtual services designed to support consumers’ personal goals, realize the greatest value of their purchases or memberships, and access health-mended practices and content. These virtual member programs, both free and subscription-based, are incentivizing consumer participation in health-centered activities and shopping habits through on-demand coaching and guidance, while driving opportunities for greater engagement between consumers and retailers. 

Athletic retailer Nike announced the launch of a movement platform called Mind Sets, which is designed to inspire users through a series that focuses on the connection between mental health and physical health. As a part of an initiative to help people prioritize and improve their mental health, Mind Sets will be available globally across Nike’s channels, including across social media, websites and Nike apps. The platform will feature curated content and exercise experiences, such as, an audio guided walk and run program by coach Dora Atim, a podcast by Jaclyn Byrer, in addition to other Nike Training Club workouts. The platform will also integrate tips for nutrition, recovery and sleep throughout the program to create a more holistic wellness coaching experience.

Community-Backed Support
With the shift to digital-first lifestyles, community has taken on an increasingly important role both in terms of socializing and connection. New brand-led platforms are making community a core aspect of their service offerings, bringing customers together to share experience, receive  expert advice and be supported in their everyday lives. 

Retailer buybuyBABY created an on-demand parenting platform designed to help new parents break through the clutter of information so that they can navigate childcare and develop their own parenting style. Called ‘welcome to parenthood,’ the program will take place both in-store and online through new digital offerings, reimagined shopping experiences, and educational content. Through the extended platform, parents will be able to access an array of programs, such as, Parenting Pros which offers advice and content from a team of pediatric professionals; The Village support network; Digital Concierge Services that allows parents to chat directly with product experts; and more. Users will also have access to livestream shopping events, on-demand content, and virtual education opportunities through a range of classes and free webinars. 

Skill Development
An increasingly digital-first economy has created a host of new opportunities for growth and success within core areas like education and business. However, accessibility and lack of fundamental understanding of what's available are still an obstacle for many consumers. As they seek out new sources of support, brands have a unique opportunity to step in and provide the tools and expertise to support these endeavors. By providing their customers with the resources to achieve their goals, rather than simply marketing to them, brands can build meaningful and lasting relationships.

Startup Alms is offering a new social network that encourages real-world engagement through creator-led challenges in areas like personal growth, sustainability and making a positive impact. Designed during the early days of the pandemic, the Alms app aims to guide users to a happier and more meaningful life. To get started, users choose from an array of interests from three areas, including mental health, sustainability and impact. Once setup is complete, users can begin to follow creators and join their challenges, which range from increasing physical activity by building it into their daily routine to improving work-life balance by instilling hard stops to the end of the day. Users are encouraged to share personal antidotes as they complete steps in the challenge to inspire others and to generate community-based interaction. With over 30 creators, Alms aims to build a network of over 300 hundred within months. Unlike social media challenges, Alms seeks to be a place where users come to receive encouragement instead of likes and comments. 

Despite the rise of new investing platforms, investing can still feel risky and complicated for many consumers. The recent addition of fractional shares has opened the door for many new consumers given the lower financial commitment required and the ability to invest in a broader range of companies with a proven track record of success. This idea has been further expanded upon by layering a loyalty offering on top, which rewards shoppers with fractional shares in the companies they shop with. This stakeholder-based model encourages customers to support the brands they love in the hopes of increasing value of their ownership.

Fintech company DriveWealth and stock rewards mobile app company Bits of Stock partnered to create a cardless stock rewards program to incentivize the younger generation to get involved with investing in their financial futures. To use the program, card holders simply link their bank account to the Stocks Reward App and each time they make a purchase at one of their favorite brands, they are rewarded with fractional shares of the company. For example, each time a customer purchases an item from a participating merchant like Zara or Popeyes, they can earn 5% in the merchant's stock. The program offers Millennials and Gen Z an opportunity to learn about finance and wealth building while breaking down the barriers to entry and building future loyal customers. 

Financial Growth Planning
Long-term financial planning – paying off debt, building credit, saving for a big purchase, etc. – can be a daunting prospect for many consumers. The process requires knowledge, patience and the right plan of action. In an effort to simplify that process, new financial services are pairing tracking tools with education with personalized guidance to assist customers as they look to achieve their individual goals. 

Financial network for digital content creators, Creative Juice, launches its inaugural Juice Fund as a way for creators to support each other and invest in their peers’ businesses by providing the financial infrastructure for creators to scale their independent businesses with community investment. The network hopes to provide a next generation suite of financial infrastructure tools to digital creators. 


Deep Dive with PSFK’s latest report… Engaging Customers Around Aspirations

In this report, the PSFK Research team explores the innovative tools and emergent methods being deployed by businesses and brands to engage with an aspirational audience, drive loyalty, and improve lives. To help our members better understand the trajectories at play in this increasingly important and valuable space, PSFK has identified 5 key trends powering the connection between core business propositions and aspirational consumer growth.