In the wake of a global pandemic, we’re witnessing flaws in a healthcare system that countless voices have advocated to change. Within this same moment, we’re seeing the literal depiction of giving people their flowers while they can smell them. I browse the web daily (ducking the swarm of C-word coverage because of anxiety) and see healthcare professionals gifted with free apparel, comfort meals and more from companies as a small token of gratitude for their sacrifice.
While lots of industries are experiencing financial hardship as a result of the C-word, social media influencers are being impacted as we spend more time at home. Events are postponed, travel is limited and sponsorships are on pause. For the foreseeable future, we’ve been stripped down to our bare bottoms and have only essential workers to keep us warm.
As income becomes uncertain and unemployment rates reach a record high, brands have shifted from pushing products through influencers out of respect for the people on the other side of the screen, likely in the direct line of the virus. Post COVID-19, will consumers shift to enabling brands (and people) that support others and add value? Will we live in a world where consumer praise stems from a brand’s ability to take care of people that we can touch? From their ability to spoil those who have proven to be real-life superheroes?
Countless fashion houses halted business to produce masks and hand-sanitizer for frontline workers. Brands, like Adidas, Crocs and Brooks, have given free shoes as a small thank you to healthcare workers who stand on their feet all day so that we can sit. Birchbox gifted 40,000 boxes; Bite Beauty, Glossier and eos shipped out beauty items to hospitals across the globe. Before the sudden closures, the influencer industry was estimated to see a $9.7B increase in 2020. Diverting a few million to the people delivering babies and setting up ventilators seems like it would be good for business, and the soul.
What will come of this? Will we reimagine what it means to influence? Will the criteria for who we empower change? When this passes, will we remember those that got us through? Grocers, parcel workers, first responders, local restaurateurs, public transit workers, healthcare professionals.
If praising the people who keep the world moving is our new normal, I’m OK with that.