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How to give consumers want they want while times are tough

How to give consumers want they want while times are tough

By Andy Barker, Head of Qualitative Research at YouGov

At the end of 2008 YouGov embarked on a journey with consumers: it began as an exploration of how people were reacting to the credit crunch and has now evolved into a means of giving voice to the embattled consumer.

We have found many things, including key trends towards greater consumer resourcefulness, a search for brand substance, the emergence of ‘new tradition’, a move to simplification of life and an emergence of a new, stronger assertive individuality.

However what we wanted to share with you in this article are some ‘horse’s mouth’ suggestions that consumers shared with us for how brands and companies can help them through difficult times.

Whilst there is doom and gloom a-plenty at this time, there is also opportunity for brands which want to align themselves with consumers’ changing needs. These are the brands which will emerge most ready to build their businesses when the green shoots really do appear.

Here are 5 things that consumers tell us to tell you, the brand owners:

First of all don’t be too gloomy (there is enough bad news around) but DO respect the modest mood of the times. Consumers tell us that they will have a lower tolerance of trivialising advertising and marketing – a strong need for substance and renewed focus on functional benefits means that there is less interest in the ‘trivial’, no matter how diverting.

Secondly, demonstrate your support for the local – where people live or the British economy; consumers are worried about the fundamentals of life – their jobs, their homes, their families – basic security and wellbeing. Companies which invest in our economy should say so and consumers will appreciate this.

Thirdly, simplify your offer. Consumers are not in the mood for bamboozling complexity of apparently similar products with overlapping benefits. If they are to trust brand owners they need to see transparency and honesty. Simplification of products, benefits and communication is key to this.

Fourthly, embrace and work with the “Freeconomy”. Consumers are looking for ways to get something for nothing and the net certainly facilitates this. Adopt the language of ‘free’ and make your best promotions available to the legions of active voucher and bargain seekers out there searching for brands who will meet them half way in saving money.

Finally, reward loyalty. Consumers are being courted left right and centre. But their ‘won’t get fooled again’ attitude means that they will look for the catch behind the hook.  So aggressively promote trial but look to the longer term relationship as consumers will stand by brands they feel have stood by them consistently through the dark days ahead.

So, in summary, moving closer to consumers as they hunker down and supporting them through 2009 with simple, honest benefits and an empathetically modest tone of voice should hopefully see you retain your Superbrand status in the eyes of consumers next time round.

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