Mindfulness & Marketing: A Peaceful Coexistence or Conflict of Interest?

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?

References

Kabat-Zinn, J. (2015). Mindfulness, 6(6), 1481-1483.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mindfulness

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.

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5 Responses to Mindfulness & Marketing: A Peaceful Coexistence or Conflict of Interest?

  1. labbasi says:

    Interesting points! I think the two can’t go fully together. Even if a campaign has good intention in their marketing to bring up mindfulness, the consumer will view it as a new marketing strategy. I think a company should reshape their mission statement and values for it to be genuine in the messaging. Any company can come up with a thoughtful and deep message, but it won’t come across real (for me at least) if I know the company does not value this message all the time. It looks like a phase and can backfire. I can appreciate the tactic, but will not trust it 100%.

  2. pgreppi says:

    You raise an interesting point: how to embrace mindfulness in marketing, when the main thing behind mindfulness is about being conscious of decision taken, and influences from outside?
    Of course, as Labbasi said before, a campaign that intentionally brings up mindfulness could be seen as trend-surfer. On the other side, Authenticity is the buzz word of these recent years, and many brands are striving to become more personal, create human relationships with customers. Mindful marketing don’t need to reshape the whole business of an organization. There is more in a company than its branding. Mindful marketing could be open and honest about the products sold, how they will impact on people’s life, how consumer do actually use the products and what does it means. Many brands might try to enter this game, but only the ones that have a true value to offer can master it. So I think there will be sort of a natural selection, as it happened for marketing campaigns that embraced the topics of women empowerment, LGBTQ+ rights, wealth distribution, global climate change and so on

  3. sunniexyy says:

    It is a great point to think about mindfulness and marketing together. Certainly, mindfulness exerts different influences on brands from the perspective of customers compared to its effects from the perspective of marketers.
    As far as I am concerned, customers with mindfulness are more inclined to purchase products based on features and functions instead of looks and packages. They may evaluate their purchase to see if they need the products and avoid impulsive spending on unnecessary things. What’s more, mindful customers are trying to make wise decisions so they are more likely to appreciate brands that share their values, arouse resonance and actually care about them.
    From the view of marketers, to build authentic brands with high-quality products is always a great strategy. As Brandon said last week, people don’t welcome brands into their house, they welcome people. Therefore, a brand should develop an authentic personality aligned with its position and make connections with customers like making friends. Long-term strong relationships can keep mindful customers and improve their loyalty.

  4. jieqionh says:

    First of all, I’d love to point out that it is extremely hard to reach 100% mindfulness. Both marketers and consumers are human beings who have bias and feelings in a natural way. In my mind, it is nearly impossible to reach the nonjudgemental state.
    From the marketers’ point of view, it is useful to take into account the reactions of consumers as humans while designing a marketing strategy. Starting with considering the question of what do consumers care. In comparison, the consumers should be aware of their human emotions when making a decision so as to avoid impulsive purchase. Remembering to ask yourselves about whether the product truly fulfills your needs and whether those needs are rational.
    In short, although it is hard to reach, it is a good attempt to be mindful, no matter as a marketer or a consumer.

  5. anamrodr says:

    I agree as well in that both practices should intertwine. We live in a consumption culture where people are compulsive buyers, just think of Black Friday.
    I think that consumers should be mindful whenever they make purchases and be responsible when spending. That is not the case on every purchase, of course price has its role at influencing consumer purchase behavior. But it would certainly be for our benefit.
    On the marketer’s end, consumers becoming mindful can be a challenge, but the fact that it makes the persuasion harder, might raise a more powerful connection between brands and consumers or the complete opposite if campaigns do not succeed. So it can be seen as a double-edged sword.

    I also think that mindfulness can certainly influence a marketer’s creativity to come up with successful ideas that connect with consumers on a deeper level thus tapping on the emotional value.