Part of becoming a trusted brand is being there for your customers through good times and bad. That means the high inflation we’ve been experiencing in Canada and elsewhere marks a moment where marketers should be more active than ever before – they just need to fine-tune their approach.
Given ongoing economic challenges, it’s only natural that many Canadians will be more intentional about how they manage their finances. This includes their everyday spending on groceries and sundries, as well as considering when they can afford to make a big-ticket purchase like a house or a car.
Inflation can have a big impact on the costs of these items. It can also influence the decisions of companies around how many people they can employ, and whether they have to reduce headcount. Marketers need to keep all this context in mind as they tell their stories through digital channels to ensure they demonstrate an understanding of customers’ current situation.
An ad campaign that talks up the fun of impulse buying or indulging in luxuries, for example, might not resonate with customers who are keeping a close eye on their pocketbooks. Similarly, marketing that plays to concepts like the “fear of missing out” (FOMO) might make customers feel worse at a time of increased anxiety over their financial future.
Course-correcting your marketing strategy amid inflation may require taking a step back and changing up the content of creative assets, as well as making customer segmentation and personalization a more urgent priority. When customers feel like they’re just one of the masses seeing the same message from a brand, they might tune out. When a brand markets to them in a more one-on-one fashion, however, they feel recognized and appreciated.
Another quick win is to increase – and optimize – your brand’s presence on digital channels. Making it easier to research, buy, and receive support online saves people time, which is almost as important to them as saving money. Remember they’ll probably be starting their journey in these channels, even if they wind up visiting a physical store.
Platforms like Customer 360, which includes Marketing Cloud, make it easier to adjust your approach to building a brand because it streamlines workflows through advanced automation. It also allows you to get a single view of customer data to better understand what they want and need.
The best way to market amid inflation will vary depending on the unique nature of every business, but these are some ideas to help develop an actionable plan that works:
The most recent period of inflation has been marked by a trend that is sometimes described as “shrinkflation,” where brands charge the same price or more for a smaller version of their products. While this can address rising operational and manufacturing costs, it has an obvious impact on the customer experience and their satisfaction.
Smart marketers will avoid shrinkflation and look for ways to give their customers more – not necessarily more of the same product or service, but more to help them address their needs or enjoy their purchase. Examples include:
· Rich interactive content that demonstrates how to use a product or service in novel ways
· Digital customer communities that help peers share knowledge and solve problems together
· Webinars or in-person events that provide a first look at new products and services
Review your customer data. Who has spent the most, or the most often? Who has been actively promoting your brand on social media or similar channels? Who has left positive reviews on sites that attract more customers?
Many brands have loyalty programs, but they’re limited to asking everyone to sign up and earn points based on purchases. A data-driven approach to loyalty will start by calculating the lifetime value (LTV) of every customer, and proactively rewarding them to ensure they stick around despite high inflation.
These are the customers you should be targeting with a special offer or promotion. This could include discounts, but also invitations to an “inner circle” of customers who advise on product roadmaps, or the ability to test out new products before they’re officially released. Be creative with your loyalty program to make it worth being a member.
Inflation affects everyone, from brands to customers alike. Your marketing campaigns should reflect that.
When it becomes necessary to raise prices, for instance, brands should be ready with messaging that helps educate customers about the rationale, in a tone based upon honesty and kindness. If you’re able to run a sale or create new bundles of your existing products, on the other hand, note how it was done with the pressures of inflation in mind.
Some brands may consolidate or rationalize their product portfolio in order to manage costs. Rather than disappointing customers who can’t find their favourite items, get in front of the issue with marketing that speaks to the popularity and value of the products that remain.
Think of inflationary periods as an opportunity to showcase the best of what your brand has to offer – not only its products and services, but an ability to speak to customers in a way that shows you care, and that we’re all going to get through these economic challenges together.