By Harry Gough, Content Strategist, Qualtrics
In any other year, brands would already have their Christmas plans ironed out and ready to go, implementing the first stages of their strategies to reach consumers and drive sales. This year however, uncertainty around market conditions, governmental guidance and whether consumers will brave the highstreet is making the season even more unpredictable.
The three areas where there are the greatest amounts of uncertainty are in consumer sentiment, economic and societal conditions, and government legislation. These three areas drastically impact the effectiveness of a brand’s holiday planning, but the question remains — should you stick by your planned approach to the season? Or adopt a wait-and-see approach?
One thing is for certain though; competition will be fiercer than ever. Here are two ways to help you make the most of emerging trends and inject some strategy into a time of unprecedented uncertainty.
Adopt and stick to a “consumer first” mentality
The main reason the uncertainty is impacting brands is because it drastically changes the consumer landscape. Their needs and wants are constantly in flux and trying to impose your own strategy on consumers is a fool’s errand, you need to be actively monitoring consumer’s sentiment and adapting accordingly.
At a recent Qualtrics WorkDifferent event, Omar Johnson — formerly of Beats by Dre and Apple — spoke on the crucial importance of brands being more outward-looking and focussing more on consumers. According to Johnson “Brands exist for this reason — to serve the specific needs of their consumers.” This is true now more than ever; the only way to predict shifts in consumer sentiment is to understand where buyers are now and understand what elements impact their specific needs.
Be confident in basing your decisions on data
The socio-economic impact of the pandemic is having a two-fold effect on consumer spending. First off, the overall spend for Christmas is likely to be limited. Secondly, because of this limited spending budget, consumers are extra conscious of their buying decisions. Edelman’s Trust Barometer research revealed that on average, 65% of respondents said that the way a brand responds to the pandemic would have a significant impact on decisions about buying from that brand in future.
What this means is that consumers aren’t just looking at the price tag when it comes to their buying decisions. With their economic means restricted, their buying decisions become much more important to them. What brands say and do has much more significance in these situations, having confidence in your messaging is key, but how do you know your strategy will resonate with consumers?
This is where you have to be confident in your decision making, it’s all too easy for brands to fall into a state of paralysis worrying about the potential fall-out. This “paralysis by analysis” is crippling for brands, especially in a situation where you need to be agile as the ground shifts around you. Hesitation allows competitors to get a step ahead, instead collect the correct data and give yourself the confidence to make these decisions. Here’s the main data sets that you should be looking at:
- Message Testing – Feedback from your audience or a lookalike panel is critical, it helps you understand what consumers need and gives you greater confidence in your decisions.
- Attitudes and Usage Studies – Identify what’s changing for consumers and their reasons for change. You’ll understand what happened six months ago, what’s happening now, what changed and why that changed. With this information you can make better, more informed decisions.
- Brand tracking – Is your campaign resonating with consumers? Track the way that consumers are reacting to your brand to get an insight into this. Double down on the elements that are working and rework the parts that aren’t. In a time where price alone isn’t a deciding factor for consumers, this information will give you confidence in the decisions that you’re making.
This period of uncertainty is naturally changing the way that consumers interact with brands. As such, it’s only natural that businesses tailor their approach to consumers in order to accommodate for this. This customer centric view will pay dividends, not just now, but in future buying decisions. So, focus on your customers, gather the correct data to make more informed decisions, have confidence in these decisions and give yourselves some certainty in the changing landscape.