Do you mind(set)?

What’s the big deal about consumer mindsets – and what do they mean for brands trying to connect with modern audiences?

The Barbie Feet challenge. Baking as stress relief. The “Berries and Cream” trend. Family dance routines.

If these topics seem unrelated, you’re probably not on TikTok. 

It’s no secret that TikTok is the fastest growing global social media platform, with over one billion users. It’s also influencing other social platforms, who are scrambling to capture that elusive magic that TikTok harnesses every second of the day. That magic comes from moments – and those moments are closely tied to mindsets.

We’re defining “mindsets” as intentions or inclinations that can be fixed or fluid here. It’s our belief that mindsets have become an increasingly important tool for marketers across categories – from our perspective, they’re just as crucial for consumer brands as they are for platforms like TikTok. 

Understanding consumer mindsets presents an opportunity for companies to build different associations with their brands, but it also creates a need to advertise in a different way to maximize impact. So how can you revamp your strategy and move toward a more human-centric, mindset-driven approach?

Mindset over demographics

Demographic insights have their time and place in the modern world, but it’s becoming very clear that you also need to care about the mindsets of your consumers in the moments they look to engage with brands.

We worked with TikTok on a piece of research that surveyed 4,000 respondents across the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. This looked at why people engage with certain platforms and, in doing so, identified the different mindsets people have when using different platforms.

The results? The majority of the TikTok community fell into a combination of four core mindsets which differentiated the platform to competitors: “Entertain me,” “Participate,” “Uplift,” and “Discover.” People in a “Participate” mindset, for example, might want to share with others and participate in a community – and people with this mindset were 24% more likely to respond to branded content on the platform.

Recognizing that it’s not necessarily “our age or demographic that unites us with others, it’s how we act – our mindset” is universally crucial for brands. People aren’t one-dimensional; age doesn’t necessarily dictate preferences or interest, as we continue to see from the huge disparities within generations. Author Gina Pell actually coined the term “perennial” to describe this shift: “Perennial merely describes a mindset, a way of growth thinking. Perennial is a self-selecting, positive term for curious people who resist being defined by any one characteristic, especially age.”

Mindsets are equally grounded in data and humanity, often based on moments in time. An individual can experience a multitude of mindsets throughout a day, week, or year – in a day, your inclinations in the morning might lead you to seek very different types of content than your inclinations in the evening after a long day at work. This means that in addition to understanding mindsets, brands also need to maximize their opportunities to connect (and sell) by determining when people are centered in those mindsets. Read on to find out what 5 steps you should be taking from now.

5 steps to mindsets

1. Start listening.

We need to stop trying to read consumers’ minds – if we listen, they’ll tell us what we want to know about the mindsets they’re approaching brands with. If you don’t have a tool that helps you track shifting mindsets, visualize trends that are forming, and start to see what’s driving desire for your brand, it’s time to find one. By actively listening to the dynamic conversations happening on various platforms, you can start to elevate your insights beyond age and build an intergenerational approach to guide your marketing efforts.

2. Sharpen your strategy.

If your brand strategy is connected to a certain age group or other tightly defined segment of the population, do the work to expand the promise of your offering. Mindsets are always linked with attitudes and behaviors. This type of segmentation doesn’t replace what you already have – instead, it augments your existing consumer understanding. Exploring both helps you ensure that your brand strategy is inclusive and elastic where it needs to be, always ready to welcome in consumers who identify with the core purpose of your product.

3. Adopt agility.

Regardless of whether your sales cycle is 30 seconds or 30 days, we know that today’s market demands agility. Take a hard look at your operations to identify where you can streamline them to become as responsive as possible. New trends emerge daily; you need agile teams that can identify these trends, stitch them together into insights that are relevant to your brand, and then adapt your implementation approach in real time to address those insights head on.

4. Be realistic about behavioral change.

Realize that there’s a difference between mindsets and behaviors. Mindsets point to fleeting openings and opportunities, while behaviors are more ingrained and take time to shift. Changing behaviors isn’t necessarily the goal – it’s making the most out of those behaviors through a deeper understanding of your consumers and the shifting mindsets they experience as they engage with your brand.

5. Find a strategic partner.

By working with a team who brings deep insights and strategy experience to the partnership, you can have confidence in your brand’s ability to capitalize on the opportunities that come from digging deeper and interpreting insights from every angle – and every mindset.

Supercharging your strategy

The way we think about people – whether they’re TikTok users or consumers looking for a new product – is changing. It’s becoming deeper and more dynamic, built on listening to what people have to say.

We’re moving into the age of cognitive brands who have an intimate, living view of the evolving world around them. Brands need to be plugged in and switched on to the extent where they can quickly adapt to what they’re seeing – and pursue outcomes through these outputs.

It’s essential to start with real-time insights into what captures the attention of people across the world when they’re in various mindsets or at certain points in time. However, we can make these insights exponentially more powerful when we start to understand two things: how to predict emerging drivers of brand desire, and how to pinpoint which of those drivers are likely to shift future mindsets.

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