I’ve recently taken up a practice of mindfulness in my own life. Upon exploring and attempting to integrate practices into my daily routine, I got to thinking, does mindfulness play a role in marketing? Can it impact us both as marketers, as well as consumers? What responsibilities lie on both sides of the coin?
Living in a city like Los Angeles, in which mind and body practices run rampant (i.e. kale, hygge, charcoal, cardio barre, etc.), I suspect that you have heard of mindfulness. If you haven’t, though, it can be described as “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis,” according to Merriam-Webster dictionary. Practicing mindfulness can induce many positive implications, including the reduction of stress and anxiety, as well as improvements in overall quality of life and self-care. By focusing on presence, mindfulness can be a useful tool for leading an intentional life, rather than simply coasting.
So, let’s think about this from two angles. First, as a marketer. As a marketer, the primary goal is to create buzz, gain a following and ultimately sell (and continue to sell) a product. Marketing efforts focus on a target audience of choice, in order to increase profits and drive sales. Thus, the consumer must be able to identify with the product to some degree, or place themselves into a certain category. In mindfulness we are taught to let both thoughts and judgments come and go. In expecting a consumer to identify with a product, marketers rely on individual self-perception and, ultimately, self-judgment. We also rely on routine and convenience. We expect that if consumers like a product and it adds value to their lives, that they will continue to purchase the product should it meet their needs. However, when consumers practice mindfulness, they may be shaken from both routine and convenience, thus breaking loyalty with brands which they formerly had a relationship. They may reassess their values and purchasing factors may change. As marketers, is there a way for us to establish meaningful and mindful connections with our target audience? Is there a way to transcend the numbness of today’s ever-plugged in climate and create content that authentically inspires long-lasting connections with prospective consumers? How can we cultivate messages that encourage thoughtful engagement in both delivery and reception?
On the flip side, as consumers, we are often tuned out when it comes to advertisements. The more time we spend plugged in, the more we become desensitized. What’s even more alarming is that we don’t even realize we’re doing it! So, it takes more effort for marketers to stand out from the crowd and reach us as consumers. When consuming content, is there a way in which we can mindfully appreciate advertisements? How can we dive into the content presented, rather than avoiding the feelings it evokes? Does this mean reflecting on our purchases, and spending more responsibly? Does it mean taking more time to think about whether or not we truly “need” a product? Is this all too heavy for a simple purchase? Do the products that we choose on a daily basis matter? Does choosing ethically-produced items or companies that stand for something equate to choosing mindfully?
There are a lot of questions to consider from both sides! So, what do you think about the practice of mindfulness in marketing? Can the two coexist? Is there a conflict of interest, and does there have to be? What are the pros and cons of practicing mindfulness as both a marketer and a consumer? Do you think it will play a role in the future of marketing? Is mindfulness more relevant when targeting specific audiences?
Kabat-Zinn, J. (2015). Mindfulness, 6(6), 1481-1483.
Solhaug, I., Eriksen, T. E., de Vibe, M., Haavind, H., Friborg, O., Sørlie, T., & Rosenvinge, J. H. (2016). Medical and psychology Student’s experiences in learning mindfulness: Benefits, paradoxes, and pitfalls. Mindfulness, 7(4), 838-850.
Zhu, T. (2014). How to execute mindful marketing? The role of intrafirm network. Journal of Research in Marketing and Entrepreneurship, 16(1), 84-98.