128: kristin carpenter, consumer psychology through the coronavirus crisis and beyond, part 1

“And we often talk about how big retail and marketplaces train our consumers – we do this so we know how to serve them as specialty brands. What we’re watching – and personally experiencing today is a very strong new ‘training’ of consumer behavior. And it most certainly has to do with channels.” 

– Kristin Carpenter


NOTE: This episode originally aired as a Facebook Live on Thursday, April 2nd, 2020. 

We study consumer behavior a lot in this community. It’s without a doubt one of the absolute core areas of focus for any Channel Master. 

Because of that, I’ve been asked repeatedly what my take is on how the pandemic will affect consumer behavior. In this episode, I’m laying the groundwork for our forthcoming work around this, Channel Masters. Yes, today we take our first swing at how a ‘typical’ consumer recession mindset could look like when paired with a global pandemic. 

This is a fast-moving target and there’s truly no way of knowing where our brand fans will be on the other side of this. But it’s important to consider a few things. First and foremost, our brand fans, shoppers, target consumers – however you classify them – are people first. And they are hurting through this pandemic, some much more so than you and I are. I want to acknowledge that first because it’s so vitally important; we must caretake our people now by serving and not selling. 

However, I can’t ignore the many, many requests I’ve been receiving from you, and my clients, about where things could be headed regarding consumer psychology, behavior and mindset. 

I tapped into two resources for today’s episode: Professor Scott Galloway with New York University (his brand-new Prof G podcast), and an April, 2009 issue of the Harvard Business Review. 

In the first half of the episode, I brought insights from the Prof G show, specifically from his interview with social psychologist, Professor Jonathan Haidt. He offered a framework of sorts for how humans are wired to handle and evolve through major events like plagues, terrorist attacks, depression and recessions, and yes, pandemics. I go through the three “toolboxes” we access as humans during high times of stress, to enable you to deduce for yourself where we may land from what we’re living through today. Keep in mind, these toolboxes are hard-wired into human DNA, they are what has enabled us to survive and be resilient. 

In the second half of the episode, I cite the April 2009 Harvard Business Review article titled: How to Market in a Downturn. This article is a great read right now, and I highly recommend you give it a look. It considers consumer behaviors during and after the 2008 Great Recession.

Ultimately, if you pair how we are hard-wired as humans with the most recent “comparable” or comp in business and how consumers evolved through that, we have some kind of starting point or foundation to support our future (many) episodes that will dive into this further.

Episode #128 is another special show in our series offering support for specialty business leaders to communicate and evolve their companies and teams during this incredibly challenging time of pandemic and recession. 

Please know, I am very much hoping you’ll continue to send me ideas for more resources and support for our businesses during this time. Email me at [email protected]. And for more coronavirus-specific resources from our presenting sponsor, Verde Brand Communications, head over to www.verdepr.com. For more episodes of the Channel Mastery podcast, visit ChannelMastery.com.


Kristin Carpenter

Kristin Carpenter is Channel Mastery host and the CEO and Founder of Verde Brand Communications. A former journalist, Kristin worked on staff for major consumer lifestyle magazines, business and trade titles. Now 19 years later, she continues to serve as Verde’s CEO and directs strategy for the agency. She launched Channel Mastery in 2017 and is happy to be masquerading around as a journalist again through her hosting of the podcast. It’s her ‘beat’ to bring the absolute best practices around serving today’s connected shopper to specialty business and brand leaders. Channel Mastery is the only resource of its kind, and it was created to help level the playing field for specialty brands as they compete for the attention spans, minds and hearts of today’s shopper with marketplaces, big retail and well funded direct-first brands.


Coronavirus Crisis, Consumer Psychology, Brand Fan Psychology, Brand Loyalty, Human Psychology


“And we often talk about how big retail and marketplaces train our consumers – we do this so we know how to serve them as specialty brands. What we’re watching – and personally experiencing today is a very strong new ‘training’ of consumer behavior. And it most certainly has to do with channels. 

“It’s my hope that you can clearly see that it is not OPTIONAL to not serve your communities, your audiences, your brand fans right now. I’m not saying to sell to them, or  to try to harvest from them. I’m advocating that you serve them. Temper that with what they’re used to receiving from you, and adjust to offer them what they’re receptive to. I covered how to read your audience in last week’s show, but know that your email service provider and ALL of the social media platforms offer built-in analytics for you, in real time.”




Have questions or ideas for Kristin and the Channel Mastery podcast? Email: [email protected]

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