Britain is in the thick of a cost of living crisis that shows no signs of abating. In May 2022, inflation reached 9.1%, a 40 year peak, while consumer confidence is the lowest that it's been since records began in 1974. The cost of everything is going up and a big chunk of British households are struggling. Inflation is hitting low income households the hardest because a greater proportion of their income goes to funding the basics like housing, food, and transport, but people are feeling the squeeze across the board.
The financial stretch on families isn’t escaping the notice of their kids, either. Almost 95% of 11-18 year olds are aware of the cost of living crisis, and 61% of the same age group worry that their parents or guardians don’t have enough money for them to do what they want or have what they need.
The repercussions of this are going to be felt across the family marketing sphere: people will be staying at home more, less willing (or able) to spend on experiences and entertainment, being more cautious about their investments, and cutting back on travel. It’s never been more important to understand exactly what consumers want from the brands that they’re willing to spend their hard earned cash for. It’s also important that these moves are genuine efforts, as now more than ever, a recent study found that 88% of consumers will prioritise spending with brands they trust and consumers are more aware than ever of “social greenwashing”. Out of touch efforts might do more harm than good (in more ways than one).
Three Examples of Companies using consumer-centred marketing to meet the needs of their clientele during this difficult time:
- Supermarket chains ASDA and Morrisons are respectively offering discounted and free meals for children for example—supporting vulnerable customers through discounts on crucial items might go a long way to build customer loyalty in the long term.
- Pharmaceutical leaders Boots and Superdrug have frozen prices on hundreds of staple items, and while price freezing is controversial as an economic and marketing tool, it does show that the companies are willing to reinforce quality for cost messaging.
- Cinema chain Curzon has introduced a £5 ticket on a free subscription basis for under-25s to try and lure them back into the cinema; a move that rewards loyalty through its subscription model and that lowers the price point for young people. Loyalty programs are an industry stalwart benefitting repeat customers, with nearly half of shoppers using at least one scheme.
Empathetic, value added marketing that prioritises connection and collaboration with its audience has the best chance of cutting through—in other words this might expedite the return of longer term, emotionally driven advertising we predicted last year—making innovative market research an invaluable tool in the current climate.