Going into 2023, brands and audiences alike will face undeniably tough market conditions. In truth, the only certainty that individuals, brands, markets and nations share at present is their collective uncertainty.
With political, environmental and economic crises stacked upon us in an unprecedented manner, from the war in Ukraine and its sharp humanitarian and inflationary consequences, through to the critical stage society has entered in the fight against climate change, it’s no surprise that we’re all feeling cautious.
And that caution is having a significant impact on consumer confidence and buyer behaviour. In fact, consumer confidence has fallen below its lowest point during the Covid-19 Pandemic’s peak in 2020.
With such a drastic set of circumstances to face down in 2023, how should brands adapt in order to continue to engage their audiences, combat uncertainty and have meaningful interactions with clients and customers?
It’s an inescapably large question, but don’t fret. We’re on hand to answer it. In the first article in this series, we’ll examine how reimagining a brand’s value, and values, can help to engage wary customers and provide mutual assurance, confidence and benefits.
So, for starters, let’s consider two main facets that define an updated value proposition for 2023: Heightening your brand values, and broadening the value your brand can provide.
The value of belief
The landscape that brands are negotiating may have seen some fundamental shifts in the year since plans were drawn for 2022, but some trends have endured, and others have even grown substantially. One such latter trend is the consumer desire for a clear set of brand values.
Our indications are that the year ahead, consumers (and businesses too) will be cutting back on those products and services that they don’t deem essential and valuable, whist sharpening loyalty for those they feel they can’t live without.
They’ll be looking for the long-term value your brand can provide, and the return on investment they’ll receive, both financially and emotionally. And that emotional element is important. Because providing value now can’t simply be about value for money.
In fact, a recent Qualtrics survey found that over 60% of consumers stated that businesses needed to care more about them emotionally, and that if they did, that they’d buy more as a result.
Consumer concern about the state of the world is only going to increase, so brands will need to cater to audiences emotionally by demonstrating that they’re actively contributing to improving it.
In fact, amongst Gen Z in particular, consumer concern is at an all-time peak, with Deloitte’s 2022 Gen Z survey finding that “Gen Zs and millennials deeply concerned about the state of the world, and actively trying to balance the challenges of their everyday lives with their desire to drive societal change.”
So, it’s no longer enough to have a set of CSR objectives that align with industry best practice. This survey would suggest that you’re going to convince consumers to continue to spend with you, then a commitment to creating meaningful societal change will need to be proven.
This is something brands are beginning to realise, too. Take the recent goings on at clothing brand Patagonia as an example. In order to meaningfully align the brand with its very serious commitment to combating climate change, its founder gave the company away to a trust explicitly designed to help protect the climate.
Under this new direction, the most responsible decisions possible will be made across the supply chain, while all profits will be donated to causes fighting climate change.
Discussing the move, founder Yvon Chouinard said, “If we could do the right thing while making enough to pay the bills, we could influence customers and other businesses, and maybe change the system along the way.”
Legitimising ambitions to influence and instigate change for the good, by turning brand values into an intrinsic part of the customer experience, is something that we should all now be seeking to mirror.
Whilst this doesn’t have to be as extreme as handing the company over to a climate trust, brands should dig deep in the lead up to 2023 in order to define the values most important to them, and their customers, and plan strategic ways to make those values central to their offering.
Whatever these commitments look like for your brand, creating a coordinated, unified marketing effort behind them is essential. Consider an omnichannel approach, leveraging a diverse group of activations that communicate your commitment in an authentic way, from advertising campaigns to live activations, and everything in between.
If this level of coordination feels like a tall order due to time constraints or your brand’s scale, it would be worth connecting with a unified marketing platform, such as the mci group, that has capabilities across a range of mediums and can offer seamless integration across your marketing output.
The value of empathy
As prices soar and consumer spending power is muted, many people will be prioritising the money that they spend, and brands will effectively be competing for a bigger slice of a smaller pie. And, when they do commit to spending, the increased significance of that spend will see consumers expecting value to continue to be delivered long after the initial point of purchase.
So, as well as ensuring that your brand values are clear, it is vital to understand that your customers will be redefining what value means to them. And, as many of them may be experiencing a greater degree of stress and emotional fatigue as recession hits, they are likely to perceive greater value being offered by the products and services with an empathetic approach, that demonstrates an understanding of their material and emotional needs.
Using real-time data is a particularly effective way to ensure your brand stays afloat in this scenario, by more accurately and efficiently learning how you’re your audience is feeling. The goal being to pre-empt what their needs are, and how best you can then meet them.
After all, one study by Exasol reported that 93% of the leaders and data professionals questioned emphatically believed that,“decisions made as a result of successful data storytelling have the potential to help increase revenue.” And now, with such fluid market conditions, this figure is likely to increase even further.
By understanding what spending looks like across demographics, as well as how confident your consumers are at any given moment, where they spend their time, and what their major concerns and challenges are, you can continue to generate demand as behaviour cycles evolve.
In this scenario, adaptations and course alignments need to happen quickly in order to cater for your audience’s emotional mood, and they must be expressed in such a way that they feel personal to each individual.
The most dynamic, fast-moving brands are already working to pivot their offering to fit this new way of connecting. Take British broadcaster Channel 4, for example. Recognising the impact population change is having on their demographics, and in particular the rise in Gen-Z viewers, the channel is launching a new imprint: Channel 4.0.
This new facet of the channel will house content specifically curated to pique the interests of Gen Z viewers, with original programming from influencers with huge popularity in their age group. By locating itself on YouTube, Channel 4.0 also recognises and capitalises upon the viewing habits of their target audience, further demonstrating how attuned they are to the needs of that demographic.
The channel will also feature content designed to teach and advise would-be content creators within the Gen Z space, providing value at a deeper emotional level by recognising their aspirations and providing an invaluable resource with enriching long-term utility.
On this topic, 4Studio Managing Director, Matt Risley said: “Channel 4.0 is a hugely exciting addition to our impactful social portfolio, offering new, exciting and rambunctious ways to reach and engage young audiences with content and creators that really resonate with them.
By recognising areas in which your own company can generate demand, either within an untapped demographic, or through addressing a particular pain point that has cropped up in response to market conditions, you can continue to provide a depth of value that will see consumers remaining engaged with and loyal to your brand.
Though there’s an undeniably tough challenge ahead for brands and consumers alike, by reimagining the way we form our relationships with consumers, it will be possible to continue to pursue meaningful engagement and long-term growth.
By using the data at your disposal to derive deeper insights into how your consumer is feeling, and acting across multiple channels in a dynamic, fluid fashion to ensure their needs are met, you can help your performance remain resilient, whilst helping your consumers experience your brand in a way that delivers true value.
To find out how the mci group network can help you to reimagine the way your brand can navigate uncertainty and add value to your consumer’s experience, Call +41 22 33 99 500 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.