Brands will have to work overtime to stay relevant to cash-strapped consumers this year by demonstrating their everyday usefulness, authenticity and corporate ethics, a new report has claimed.
The insight comes from ‘Toolkit 2013’ – a guide to the biggest challenges facing marketers in the year ahead, created by global marketing intelligence service Warc in association with the business advisory firm Deloitte.
The report highlights a series of issues facing marketers around the world – from the squeeze on middle-class lifestyles, to the impact of technology on the path to purchase, to the challenge of ‘big data’.
First priority is understanding changing consumer expectations. According to Toolkit, hard-pressed consumers will take out their anger on companies this year, so brands need to show how they are making a difference in difficult times.
That may mean a greater focus on corporate ethics and authenticity. It may also mean making consumers’ lives easier, and creating a useful presence in everyday life.
Second priority is rethinking the path to purchase. Trends such as ‘showrooming’ and ‘multiscreening’ make the path-to-purchase more complex so it’s important to review the ways shoppers now interact with brands.
This may mean greater alignment of messaging – for example, in-store with mobile search, or TV with social media and e-commerce.
Brands will also need to freshen their thinking on social media and its influence. “‘Social’ is a much broader topic than ‘social media’,” the report said. “Research suggests it is worth rethinking engagement strategies on social media, and looking offline as well as online for potential advocates.”
Marketers will also need to use 'Big Data' to answer big questions.
“The opportunities of ‘big data’ are huge, but brands must tread carefully if they are to avoid being overwhelmed by numbers or alienating consumers through poorly executed personalization,” it said.
The report recommends first selecting a small number of data sources then asking ‘big’ questions of how a category works – for example, how consumers discuss the category, and where the right moments to influence them might be.
As well as outlining the challenges that marketers will face in the year to come, the report includes case studies highlighting how leading brands are successfully responding to the current consumer climate.