Siirry sisältöön
Experience Economy
The 3Es of marketing in 2022 – ethics, esthetics and empathy

There are interesting trends ahead on the marketing horizon, the three most exciting ones being Ethics, Esthetics and Empathy. Annika Konttinen and Anu Seppänen write about these concepts and why we should pay attention to them.


Annika Konttinen

lehtori, matkailuliiketoiminta
Senior Lecturer, tourism business
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Anu Seppänen

lehtori, markkinointi ja viestintä
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Published : 15.12.2021

It is that time of the year again when we take stock of the current year and start planning for the next one. There are interesting trends ahead on the horizon, the three most exciting ones starting with E.

Ethics, Esthetics and Empathy seem to be everywhere right now, and are often mentioned by global thought leaders, scholars, marketing experts and international organizations. What are these concepts about and why should we pay attention to them?

Ethics – the values guiding us

Most businesses want to impress their customers, shareholders and stakeholders with their actions on the responsibility front. The three pillars of sustainability (ethics, economy, and environment) are vital cornerstones of strategies of all responsible companies.

In recent years, the ethical side has risen in prominence. Ethics is usually described as a general idea of what is right and wrong, and how we should behave. When companies practice ethics in marketing, they put a serious effort into showing their customers that their marketing decisions are based on ethical values and promote fairness, honesty and social responsibility. Especially Millennials and Generation Z are willing to pay more for sustainable products.

Currently, customers are concerned about the ethical issues related to privacy and use of technology as well as cybercrime and where ones data does end up? Facial recognition technology may make our journeys seamless, but at what price? Also, the welfare of animals is gaining more recognition and demand for cruelty-free products is on a steady rise. Greenwashing has become widely known among consumers and promoting a product as ecological and sustainable when it is not, is an absolute no-no for any business.

Esthetics – the sense of beauty

Now that we are wrapping Christmas presents, it is good to reflect on the esthetics. This concept refers to all things beautiful and tasty. It is not enough that experiences are functional, they also need to look good.

A total esthetic experience in a product helps in guiding consumers through a series of sensory experiences – not only beauty that can be seen but taste, touch, sound and smell as well. Multisensory experiences engage our senses holistically and add new layers of enhancement to the offer.

In addition to the five senses, marketing also promotes wellbeing and togetherness among consumers, important factors amid the pandemic disruption.

Looks are not everything, but visual content can be very powerful in marketing. Visual platforms like Instagram and Tiktok have gained ground and marketers are putting a lot of effort into presenting their products beautifully, hoping to grab the attention of consumers and to engage them in a conversation.

Apple is a great example of successful decisions taken in the field of esthetics. Singapore Airlines is another famous example. The airline is well known for its iconic cabin crew uniforms (“The Singapore Girl” outfit) and its signature scent. The latest addition to the airline’s esthetic experiences is Pelago, an online magazine and booking portal that offers a wealth of non-flight experiences, such as workshops on how to make cocktails or be a beekeeper. Rethinking the overall visual appeal and considering how other senses could be applied into the experience can make a big impact on the market position.

Empathy – sharing is caring

Empathy is about being aware of, understanding and imagining the feelings of others, even when we are not experiencing those feelings ourselves. Empathy is something that only humans can master, at least so far. Empathy helps us to get along with people from different cultures and levels of society, and to avoid misunderstandings and keep an open mind.

Many experts, like the futurist Perttu Pölönen, professor and organizational psychologist Adam Grant and professor Alexander Stubb, have given talks about the importance of empathy. Respected international organizations and think tanks, e.g., McKinsey & Company, WEF, OECD, have drafted reports about how humans should focus on skills like empathy to differentiate themselves from machines and artificial intelligence.

According to World Economic Forum, empathy is a must-have business strategy. It is an effective way to respond to crises and tackle mental health issues, which many people are facing in the pandemic era. McKinsey & Company argue that businesses can connect better with their customers when they add empathy to the mix, for example by bringing joy and pragmatic assistance to stressed customers and staying reachable throughout the customer journey.

With Ethics, Esthetics and Empathy in mind, marketing efforts can reach new heights in 2022!