The Body Keeps the Score: Part Two | Unity

July 7, 2020

The Body Keeps the Score: Part Two

As the UK emerges from lockdown, we have been reflecting on how its impact is likely to affect consumer attitudes and behaviour.

Today we are looking at the first of four emerging mindsets. We call it Protect.

For many of us, lockdown has triggered fear, stress, anxiety and a desire to pull back and protect ourselves from harm and risk.

This desire to feel safer and reduce risk is entirely rational and understandable and most of us have taken necessary steps to protect ourselves during lockdown.

As we now start to see the easing of restrictions and an opportunity to get back out into the world, some of us will resist and instead double-down on risk aversion in an effort to stay safe in an uncertain world.

Is it safe to shop, go to restaurants, travel and go on holiday? Is it safe to go back to work? Will the economy bounce back or are we in for a prolonged downturn?





Many of us don’t know for certain, but for some of us, the default setting is to assume the worst and protect ourselves.

It is about protecting and preserving what you have, focusing on being safe and dialling down, financial, social and physical risks.

In social psychology, risk isn’t seen as something wholly objective, but rather contextual, relating to our attitudes, beliefs and behaviours.





Risk attitude is really a mental readiness or reluctance to act or to avoid action that we deem to be either harmful or beneficial.  It is made up of beliefs, past experiences, culture, evidence and peer groups. Our attitude isn’t fixed and can be changed by environmental factors e.g. the economy, a job loss, or other change of circumstance.

Clearly a global pandemic counts as a fairly significant environmental factor and it’s not surprising that many of us are experiencing a shift in our risk attitude.


What does this mean in practical terms?

For those of us who are adopting a predominantly Protect mindset, we are looking for ways to reduce risk across all aspects of our life.

Financially, we may be looking to reduce our debt, stop credit cards, save more or increase our insurance cover.

Those with a Protect mindset are more likely to be incentivised by the promise of minimising loss rather than increasing gains. Words like guarantee, assured, safe, protected etc will resonate with this audience and cause them to act.

Physically, they will want to boost their health and immunity but only with tried and trusted, evidence-based solutions, exercise in a safe environment and get plenty of rest and focus on their overall health and well-being.

They will be prepared to pay more for products and services that make them feel safe and secure, preferring to shop online from trusted sources and reducing any physical contact to a minimum.

These are the people who have already and will continue to have a ready stockpile of food, for when, not if we go into a second lockdown. These are the people who will want extra security for their technology and their homes.

We can all see that the weekly shop is back albeit more and more online and stocking up is pretty much standard for most of us including filling up our freezers and store cupboards with whatever we think might be in short supply.

One interesting shift is that online shopping is now being fully embraced by older consumers who appreciate the safety and added protection it offers. A question for brands, is have they looked at their UX and online customer experience through this lens?





There are so many brilliant new tools and platforms that enable the online shopping experience to feel more like shopping in-store and to make it easier to discover new things. Simply innovations, like 360 product views, product tutorials, zoom features on imagery etc can dramatically boost the experience and sales.

Another debate seems to centre around whether we will seek out more value-based brands or we will demand greater quality and be willing to pay for it. The answer is, as always, it depends on the audience.

Protect mind-set audiences will want to ensure that they are spending their money wisely, which doesn’t mean necessarily that they will be constantly hunting for bargains, but rather seeking the very best option judged against a range of factors including dependability, safety, quality and of course price.

Dining out will be a rare treat for most of our Protect mind-set audience, and they will seek out options that provide maximum safety, hygiene, distancing and crucially a memorably dining experience.

In short, the protect mindset has always been with us but it is more prevalent right now and will remain so for some time.

How big is this audience? With psycho-graphic segmentation, it’s impossible to say precisely but it’s fair to assume that at least 50% of your customer base and prospects will be somewhere on the Protect/Evolve spectrum.


What should brands be doing to appeal to this audience?

Make sure your safety and security information is front and centre. Emphasise the steps you are taking to ensure you are doing everything you can to keep your staff, customers and wider community safe.

Focus on messaging that emphasises risk reduction and protection. Of course, this should include PPE and social distancing, but also how you are reducing risk in terms of your product and service proposition and customer experience.

Sectors that will most need to emphasise Protect Mindset messaging include Retail, Financial Services, Hospitality & Leisure, Travel and Healthcare.

It’s important to remember that whilst they want and will seek out protection, they also want to continue to enjoy life and have fun so don’t forget to be entertaining and empathetic as well as prudent.




Our next post in this series will look at the Evolve Mindset.

If you’d like to learn more or want to discuss any of this in greater details please get in touch here.