We are all under pressure – to do more for less even more creatively and faster; to push teams and/or the agency harder; and yet, at the same time, to wire into shifting consumer attitudes that have shifted spectacularly, thanks to the recession.
It’s easy to lose focus and edge in these ‘interesting times’. Also, easy to lose ones conviction about basic on-going truths when it comes to engaging consumer audiences.
Here, in no particular order, are three questions which I have recently noticed myself, and others I work with (clients and agency colleagues), asking more often since the credit crunch. They seem to have helped maintain focus and edge. Hopefully at least one will be useful to you.
There may be some short term shifts in consumer attitudes but what, given the campaign objectives, is the on-going relevant long term consumer ‘truth’?
Here’s a recent example where asking this question brought clarity around the issue of austerity versus ethical brand behaviour. Some clients and industry commentators argue that recessionary pressures fundamentally erode consumer attitudes in this area. In June we commissioned a survey into consumer attitudes to CSR. In fact the research has shown that consumers are actually slightly more sensitised today to CSR when it comes to brand preference. However, their trust in brand’s/companies’ commitment to maintain standards in this area during a recession has declined. Consumers have not suddenly changed how they judge brands and businesses on the basis of their ethical behaviour even if their spending behaviour short term has. The ‘truth’ remains that differentiated and well communicated CSR will become a point of competitive advantage as the economy turns.
Are we sure we reached the target consumer as efficiently as possible?
In today’s digital and social media world, consumers are finding it easier to become part of communities. Calculating ‘opportunities to see’, ‘reach’ or ‘penetration’ is fine but look for at ways of gaining added value momentum. Search out consumer communities via partners (media, other symbiotic brands, NGOs etc) that can grow organically. Here is a great example. The Comfort fabric conditioner brand wanted to reach out to mums about its baby product. National media remain important but, for longterm and cost effective results, using ‘word of mum’ communication to reach and build communities was also critical. The efficiency question pushed fresh thinking. The team linked with media on-line creating the ‘Comforteers’ – an incentivised community of like minded mums. In weeks over 7,000 mums signed up to take part. The activity and on-going community has now touched millions via other relevant communities – it has become self sustaining.
Are the solutions we are developing over complicated?
Faced with the pressure to do more for less and fit more in to communications it can be easy to develop over complicated solutions. Simplicity differentiates – especially if it comes from the heart of the brand. Recently Welsh Lamb has been challenging not only New Zealand Lamb but also English and Scottish Lamb. The competitors have used a queue of celebrities (Beefy and Lamby), chefs, experts, DJs etc. Welsh Lamb needed to keep it simple and differentiate. Welsh passion lies behind their brand. This became the clear centre point for the campaign – who better to represent passion for quality than a Welsh Lamb farmer! The launch and hunt for the this farmer ambassador has attracted extensive coverage – a simple idea cut through the noise.
Everyone is asking the other obvious ‘interesting’ questions about value and measurement but these have been in our faces for a while – good luck in interesting times!