Consumers have become timid and uncertain about the economy. Inflation hit a 40-year high in July 2022, driving up the cost of everything from restaurant meals to electronics. And the vicious cycle of labor shortages and supply chain issues has created challenges in delivering products and services to nearly every sector.
You know the headlines and you probably know the market realities that created them.
What you may still be struggling with is the shape your marketing should take in these turbulent times.
What to avoid
It’s tempting to keep your head down until this whole thing is over. After all, why would you advertise something that may or may not be for sale? Plus, reducing marketing spend can help your bottom line, right? Of course, you’ll also need to raise prices to cover the increased cost of delivery—gas, supplies, and labor.
The problem is that this combination of staying calm and raising your prices could potentially take you out of sight, out of mind, and out of the buying decision.
They can reduce costs in the short term, but possibly at the expense of long-term loyalty, and perhaps even erode consciousness. This strategy could make your product so optional that it can be forgotten depending on how long these conditions last.
Finally, passing on price increases carries the potential risk of losing consumers forever. As they become less willing to tolerate higher prices, demand may weaken and buying behavior may change in the long term. At best, consumers can amplify their deal-seeking behavior and intensify their drive for market share. At worst, consumers can adopt new behaviors that completely abandon your category or brand.
Rather than go silent and risk irrelevance, here are three marketing strategies tailored for inflationary times:
Focus on being remembered
We believe brands that invest in marketing and innovation during tough economic times may have the ability to win the day when consumer buying habits are bound to change. In this environment, short-term losses are likely. But the question is, will these losses continue after inflation settles and supply chains normalize, or will you view these losses as a potential investment in brand awareness and customer loyalty?
Address the need to save
More consumers will adopt value-based behaviors and appreciate brands that offer no-fuss savings. When you offer a deal, you might not only be filling a real need, you’re also helping to play to the heart.
Using coupons and other incentives may be just what is needed to attract shoppers willing to pay a discount or even skip the purchase altogether. And while you secure the sale, you can improve satisfaction and get on their list for the next purchase.
Due to labor issues and supply chain disruptions, business owners may not have product to sell even when consumers are in the mood to buy. Restaurants and retailers are having reduced hours, grocery stores are struggling with recurring out-of-stock items, and some products, like cars and electronics, are taking extra time to deliver. It is therefore particularly important to align your marketing with the available inventory and to maximize sales opportunities in this environment. To achieve this, you need to work smarter, not harder.
Linking the brand to consumer needs
As difficult as it may be to advertise effectively in this economic headwind, times are particularly tough for consumers. And the more empathetic you are, the more impact you have on consumers.
Although exact tactics may vary, we know one thing: silence is the last thing you should do.
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#1: Pop-Up Chicken Shop
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#5: Restaurant Veracruz
No. 6: Anju Above
#7: The Rock Restaurant
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No. 9: Bloom Bawaarchi
No. 10: Seoul Mama
John Ruedi is Regional Marketing Specialist at Savant Wealth Management in Bloomington.
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