By Colin Jowell

The year is barely a fortnight old, and we’ve already had our first news of terror. The Charlie Hebdo tragedy is an unwanted reminder of the deep schism that exists in our global society. Far from being an isolated or limited to one group or location, ongoing racial tension in the US will be a hallmark of the year ahead. Last year’s Sydney siege was a painful reminder that these divisions can exist very close to home, even if that was more lone wolf than organized movement.

What I’m not going to say is that we are at risk, or even in local danger - we can leave that kind of scaremongering for politicians. What I am going to predict though is that our collective psyches will undoubtedly be affected.  More globally-aware citizens won’t be able to stop this kind of news affecting their decisions, even at a subconscious level. Others may be materially impacted by a changing economic structure that can’t be ameliorated by a drop in the petrol price or a lower electricity bill.

So what does this mean for your marketing? Past experience of similar conditions would suggest going back to the tried and tested Maslowian hierarchy of needs, looking to fulfill more basic needs as a matter of priority. This is not as gloomy as it sounds - actually there is quite a lot of opportunity if you know where to look.

Here’s my top five for 2015:

1. Start at home

A “batten down the hatches mentality” means that home and family matter more than anything. If people are weighing up between the next big trip, or the next big reno, the latter will be an easier sell.

2. Family matters

Aligned to home is family - and ways to look after them.  Think education or just reminding people that they are precious and worth spoiling- these are the kind of messages that will find an even more receptive audience than before.

3. Feeling safe

Safety is a feeling, not a physical state. So this is less about home alarm systems, and more about the provision of certainty. This can be as simple as a performance guarantee, or money back promises. Or it can be more service oriented – such as digital comparison tools, or including more personal expert consultations. Remember that trust and safety should be the take-out, not the message.

4. Acceptable escape

Just because people are feeling less secure, doesn’t mean they won’t remember or look out for more carefree times.  Think local and home entertainment, any way your brand can create small “digital holidays”. Give people a break – they may thank you for it. And yes, that may also mean not hard-selling quite as much.

5. Look after your own

No person can make you feel quite as valued or secure as someone you trust already. And the same applies for brands. In times of uncertainty, people look for reassurance from the things they already know. You can capitalize on this by doubling down on your customer relationship management – the return on that investment is likely to be better than ever.

Happy 2015.