Gone are the days of our consumer spending frenzy. Spending and saving have become an industry, so sophisticated that brands need to consider how to turn on consumers who’s raison d’etre is about getting something back. But this is changing and now it’s increasingly about giving back. We’ve seen a sharp shift in the consumer conscience during 2018. Smart brands are considering the more intentional motivations behind consumer spending behaviour, which is becoming more than a simple consideration but the definition of informed consumer choice.
This delivers opportunities for PR campaigns – recommendations need to not only be seen reflect this but embrace this at the core of the story-telling ideas. This is a chance for brands to open up their eyes to what is motivating consumers, hence understanding the triggers to win brand loyalty. Brands can use PR to communicate their broader values and corporate social responsibility (CSR) commitments in an authentic manner, winning the hearts and minds of the consumer as a result. These disciplines need to work more closely together. One of the outstanding brands in our eyes – in this area – is the successful convenience brand the Co-op, which has succeeded in consistently demonstrating itself as an ethical brand in the most transparent way. But what’s so powerful here is the authentic nature of this brand – and it’s a winning strategy. Whilst so many on the high street are issuing profit warnings, the Co-op is retaining its market position.
There’s no doubt that cost and savings are still relevant and important – but this is essentially about winning over the mind. When a brand wants to move into a stronger emotional connection, there is a trend and requirement to tap into the intentional spending power of a consumer.
We predict that we are going to see this touch every single industry. If you look back at 2018, the plastics movement has been phenomenal. David Attenborough has spawned a movement that has touched the hearts of consumers. Only this week the Government announced changes to its Resources and Waste Strategy which will see consumers will having to pay a returnable deposit on bottles, cans and disposable cups. About time, many may say, but at last consumers are stepping up and changing their behaviour – and we’d argue they are going a step further. Quick reacting brands have stepped up with new experiences in-store – no plastic aisles for example – but they need to demonstrate this isn’t a simple PR stunt but a meaningful exercise that aligns to corporate policy.
What’s really exciting here is that this is touching the next generation of consumers – millennials are most likely to choose brands with ethical motivations and goals (see Forbes article here taken from the book: Your Customer is the Star: How to Make Millennials, Boomers and Everyone Else Love Your Business). How this plays out in terms of influencing brands to adapt policies – from the way they choose suppliers with more sustainable packaging policies to deciding on suppliers that use material from recycling sources – such as glass. Those consumers old enough will remember the 10p back on returned bottles to retailers as a way to ensure bottles were recycled after use. And following this week’s announcement from the Government, it looks like we’ve come full circle, returning to simple measures such as these demonstrate that we as consumers lost our way in our consumer frenzy for convenience and ease, but are now learning our lessons.
Brands have the opportunity to tell the story of their intentional journey and communicating a vision for the future that is based on tangible deliverables that are meaningful to the consumer – that are going to build a longer term relationship that turns on that next generation. But don’t be under any illusion that it’s easy to win over this conscious consumer – they are very savvy and want and require evidence. As we always preach, PR needs to be grounded.