DANIELLE PINNINGTON discusses how to act while ‘playing the waiting game’ and dealing with consumer confusion
The latest consumer confidence index from GfK (measured post Brexit) showed a drop of eight points – the sharpest decline in 21 years. This highlights how deeply consumers have been rocked by the Referendum result. We do at least now have a new Prime Minister and cabinet in place but with ‘the Brexit button’ still not pushed, we are all still playing a bit of a waiting game.
What we do know, however, is that if consumer confidence drops, then so too does spending overall.
We can already see the nervousness of the retailers, evidenced by summer sales of up to 70% discount. Figures like that haven’t been seen since the recession. So what can brands and retailers do to deal with reduced spending among shoppers?
Firstly you need to take stock of where shopper marketing sits in your organisation. Is it simply the tactical toolbox used to placate your retail customers?
Or could it perhaps be a core part of your marketing strategy?
There is a big difference between these two mindsets. The first is about being reactive. If you are reactive in a fast changing situation, then there is a chance you are going to be late to the boat, if not miss it completely.
If, however, shopper marketing is core to your marketing strategy, then it is considerably more likely you will be proactively using the shopper opportunity. Hopefully you already have in place the information streams that will allow you to flex different tools to better persuade shoppers to choose your product.
It is that ear to the ground that will allow you identify changes in shoppers needs, and flex accordingly.
Don’t forget that you have recent history to work with. If you look back at the initiatives that worked during the recession for you or your competitors you will find ready-made case studies of what to do or not do.
Think of the much copied ‘Dine In for £10’ from M&S. Capturing the momentum of the Dine In shift in behaviours, the tasty M&S dine-in deals featured meals for two, with wine and appealed to the thrifty consumer who believed they were still getting a good quality ‘treat meal’ without spending restaurant prices.
Think of ‘Feed your Family for a Fiver’ from Sainsbury’s, or the advertising that compared OL to branded products.
These are just a handful of great examples of how we can deliver solutions to respond to shoppers’ issues.
As we all know, the UK retail environment is ferociously competitive. Another tightening of the nation’s purse strings is only going to increase that edge.
Brands and retailers need to be at the top of their game, and to have a real grasp of what will and won’t appeal to prudent shoppers. Don’t assume that strong brand loyalty will remain regardless. Instead you should assume that it won’t and think about what can be done to help you combat that.
It’s always etter to be prepared than to be caught short. I don’t pretend to believe it’s going to be easy, but in a dynamic retail environment like the UK, it still has to be possible, so let’s keep that fighting spirit.
Danielle Pinnington is the founder and owner, of Shoppercentric which specialises in shopper insight, trends research and specialist training in shopper knowledge and understanding. For further information please visit www.shoppercentric.co.uk