You’d be forgiven for thinking that we’re all victims of a hidden camera ruse at the moment. On top of a cost of living crisis, rising inflation and war, we’ve now added more political turmoil and a drop in the Pound to the sour pie.
All of this is – quite understandably – having an effect on consumer spending. According to research from Barclays, 41% of people are currently looking to reduce the cost of their weekly shop. A similar number are also seeking ways to save on energy and water usage, with the average person spending 34.5% more on utilities.
Other markets are feeling the aftershocks of these swelling costs. Furniture stores and sports retailers have seen sales decline by 25.4% and 19.6% respectably; electronics (13.1%) and household goods (13.8%) have also taken hits, while 18% have cancelled a TV or streaming service.
Separate research from Mintel found that 31% of consumers are currently thinking about postponing plans to book a holiday, while 30% are delaying the purchase of a major item. 20% are considering or already using savings to buy essential items.
Brands must tread carefully
For brands trying to navigate these choppy waters, knowing your customers and the particular challenges they face are the first steps towards coming up with an effective response.
Some businesses, for example, will be targeting consumers who are typically better off, and therefore less vulnerable to a crisis that is disproportionately impacting poorer sections of society. Focusing on value will consequently be less of an imperative than it will be for brands whose customers are struggling.
Unity and community
But whoever your target audience is, one thing that unites all consumers is the need for positivity and assurance. Merely reading the news is a stressful experience at present, and people do not want to have those stresses amplified by pessimistic brand messaging.
A sense of community is also high up the agenda for many at the moment. Mintel’s research found that 44% of consumers surveyed say it’s important to feel part of a community, while 56% said their heritage is an important aspect of their identity. Brands that challenge this desire for belonging – potentially by creating and encouraging participation in virtual and digital spaces – may find they cut through to better effect.
Be a steady, supportive presence
Then, of course, there’s the idea of future-proofing. With many consumers seeking ways to protect – and even grow – their savings, brands should be offering guidance and useful tips that promote both financial and mental wellbeing.
One thing that unites us all, however, is our resiliency. The UK has seemingly lurched from crisis to crisis over recent years; uncertainty is nothing new, so brands shouldn’t panic.
Brand building still holds the key to long-term success; indeed, while promotional offers will go down well with some customers, going too aggressive with a sales strategy will do more harm than good. Not only will it hit your profits, but also create an expectancy that may be hard to shift as economic recovery looms.
To find out more about marketing during a crisis, contact our experts for a friendly chat.