As a marketer, you understand that many factors go into the way families decide to purchase a product or not. Before COVID-19, consumers had ample opportunity to plan ahead for a large purchase.

Now? Changing conditions regarding employment, lockdowns, and budgeting stringently means millions of consumers must make many buying decisions on a day-to-day basis.

So how can you get inside their minds on a granular level to strike the right messaging tone — and do it with integrity? Fascinating new research can help.

A recently published study from researchers Flavia Cardoso, Pilar Rojas-Gaviria and Daiane Scaraboto, "Restoring balance: how consumers orchestrate family care following unplanned disruptions," finds that during times of economic uncertainty, families pivot between so-called "grounding" activities and "aerial" action.

Grounding activities include maintaining day-to-day routines, and aerial action includes more creative thinking to solve problems that crop up and maintain inspiration when life is on shaky ground. You can see that as part of keeping balance and equilibrium in a family unit, a consumer can "ground" by preserving resources and making concrete financial decisions as a base for overall needs and budgeting.

At the same time, depending on changing day-to-day conditions during the pandemic, consumers are also dealing with unforeseen events, and families have to pivot and adjust to changing conditions in real time. The study focuses on how this "dance" is relevant to the issue of caregiving within a family when illness and changing conditions cause disruptions in normal family life and activities. These kinds of disruptions, obviously, can have a major impact on how family consumption strategies play out.

According to the study, one member of the family tends to orchestrate the "dance" between both "grounding" and "aerial" approaches to ensure their household has everything it needs to function as safely and as smoothly as possible. Factors related uniquely to the pandemic, such as upended careers and restricted income, play a huge role in how that family member will choose to proceed.

To support these families, the researchers feel they need support: flexible public policies and support from organizations that can offer help without telling them what to do. The goal is to help families "dance" in the moment as circumstances in the world change — and make sure they have the resources to do so.

Taking this information into account, how do you do your part in helping your customers accomplish this? First of all, it's key you do not take advantage of your consumers' circumstances in your messaging at this incredibly challenging time. Your business model must be humane and scaled down in terms of profit expectations. No manipulation; no hard selling.

At all times, you want to help your consumers by emphasizing how your products can keep them moving forward — providing energy, time, focus, and hope for the future — in a flexible way, as opposed to giving them static messaging that reminds them of the past normal. You also want to emphasize support and workability in terms of pricing and payment options, which is extremely key when their resources may be in flux.

Provide a wide range of "support tools," as the researchers suggest. This approach will help you hold on to your existing demographic and attract new customers, even during these turbulent times. Reframe your brand thinking so that you see your consumers as "jugglers"...reading the tea leaves to decide how best to proceed as they fill their household's needs.