Our founder, Kate Nightingale, has met Matilda Andersson for a webinar on the cultural codes, meanings and representations of safety.

Matilda Andersson is MD for London and Amsterdam at a cultural insight and strategy agency Crowd DNA. Matilda also has a PhD in Human Geography making her uniquely qualified to discuss cultural shifts and their impact on consumer behaviour.

She has discussed the meanings of safety and its representations in design, language, experience and behaviour, explaining how cultural shifts have occurred during the Coronavirus pandemic. The current pandemic has increased people’s need for safety, one of the most fundamental needs to human survival and well-being. The need for safety has been intensified and consumer brands must understand such cultural change in order to satisfy and fulfil the needs of customers, employees and even of the general public. However, even though brands must provide safety they cannot lose the human touch, they must consider the humanity of their consumers and how fundamental it is to provide stimulating, enriching and also relaxing experiences. The focus cannot be put entirely on hygiene but rather on the pleasure that come from the buying experience.

In the current times, consumers are exhausted, they are cognitively tired from all the thinking and decisions they are required to make on daily, even when deciding to go out shopping,  something which more often happened spontaneously before. When they can trust that brands takes care of their safety well, they can relax and focus on the experience more.

The cleanliness of a place, however, is not the only element on which brands should focus. The concept of safety has changed and how brands need to deliver it has undergone a small revolution. Empathy has become a synonym of safety.  Consumers will perceive empathetic brand as safer. As a consequence to this, brands need to embody empathy through their brand, customer experience and leaders, they need to show that they care.

A further change in the concept of safety regards the universality of it. Safety cannot discriminate, everyone needs to be safe. During these months, the pandemic has negatively impacted certain groups, above all minorities, highlighting severe inequalities and disadvantages. As a consequence to this, the network idea of safety has arisen. Safety means humanity and everybody must have the same access to safety. Brands cannot just think about consumers’ safety but they must ensure to keep all of their workers safe. Moreover, in doing so, they must be transparent and accountable.

In terms of providing enriching and satisfying experiences, brands will have to focus on delivering safety at each step of the customer journey including the delivery. There will be the need to completely rethink packaging conventions and delivery services. In this context, e- commerce really has the chance to shine focusing on how brands package and deliver their goods in total transparency.

The concept of transparency has been applied also to sustainability. COVID-19 has put a further spotlight on how important is the environment and nature itself to keep us safe. It has arisen a holistic consciousness for which the safety of humans also relies on the safety of the environment. The focus on sustainability and the environment was already visible pre-pandemic but such pre-existing shift has been amplified. Following this, it is expected that wellness and self-care practices will become, in the future months, much more mindful. Moreover, it isonce that’s a need for greater connection to nature will likely intensify the trend of biophilia, biomimicry or even  the simple willingness to possess indoor plants. As we have spend much of our time during lockdown on nature, the associations between natural materials and safety has also been build up. Therefore, we can expect an increased preference for wood, greenery or even natural light in spatial designs, with artificial materials like plastic creating more of an avoidance motivation.

Clearly, this short discussion shows how differently people understand safety now and how therefore brands need to adapt their practices to satisfy a more holistic sense of safety.

What the full discussion with Matilda here.

Listen to the whole talk here: