Tuesday, October 21, 2008

SPECIAL REPORT ON THE ECONOMY: How To Woo Consumers In The Middle Of An Economic Firestorm-Part 2

How To Talk To Consumers In The Post Bailout Economy
By Kevin McIntosh

In How To Woo Consumers In The Middle Of An Economic Firestorm-Part 1, I discussed the changes to expect in consumer behavior over the next several months, and perhaps over the next several years.

Consumers will be spending less, and their purchases will be driven more by necessity than by desire.

So competition is about to get more heated in terms of going after the consumer's dollars. That's because there will be fewer consumer dollars out there.

As consumers get smarter than ever about spending money, marketers will have to get smarter than ever about getting consumers to spend money on their brands. That means knowing how to talk today’s changing consumer.

Appeal Less To The Ego, And More To The Wallet

The smart marketers will quickly adapt to the shifts in consumer behavior. Communications need to focus on value and cost-savings opportunities.

In fact, a new study by Omnicon Group-owned media agency OMD tested consumer feelings about advertising. 81% of the respondents said that advertisers need to continue to communicate about their products during a recession, adding that they'll be more receptive to cost-savings messages and products that are positioned as investments.

From AMC's Mad Men: Copywriter Peggy Olson summarizes the marketing sentiment that's prevailed for decades.

It's No Longer Feel Good About What You're Buying, But Feel Good About What You're Saving

Right now, consumers feel a lot of things. Confidence isn't one of them. The cars and houses that that they bought didn't make them better people. They just made them more in debt.

Having said that, it is still possible to speak to the egos of consumers while promoting value. After two decades of fairly self-centered purchase habits, the connection between feeling good about oneself and purchase isn’t likely to vanish all together.

It’s just that what made people feel good about themselves when there were seemingly endless lines of credit will be different for the Post-Bailout Economy consumer. Feeling good will be less about outright indulgence and more about responsibility, especially responsibility in regard to saving.

Link Brands To The Emotional Benefits Of Saving Money

When it comes to personal finance, emotions run deep. So while more and more purchases will be made on the rational decision of price, the emotional benefits of saving money will still be a strong benefit around which promotions and other marketing efforts can be built.

A very relevant theme for marketers in the Post-Bailout Economy is to connect saving to the idea of “Doing what's best for your family and your own future.” Saving and shopping for value is a step in taking responsibility for the future. It’s very similar to the sentiment expressed in the marketing for brands in the green category.

In the past, green marketers have encouraged consumers to think about their carbon footprint. Now marketers should also ask consumers to consider their financial footprint.

After all, carbon footprints are fairly abstract concepts. No consumer really knows exactly how much damage he has caused the environment. But the financial legacy that a consumer leaves for his offspring can be calculated down to the penny. It's much more personal than green marketing, because the consumer can't escape the accountability.

Reality Check

Marketers have enjoyed a consumer spending spree that has lasted nearly two decades. Now the spending is slowing down. To get the consumer's dollar, more marketers will have to focus on linking their brands to responsible spending.

Marketers encouraging consumers to spend responsibly. It's a dramatic shift in thought. But consumers are going through a dramatic shift in behavior.

I originally intended this to be a single article. However, the more I dig into it, I'm starting realize there are many more angles to explore. So I'll have more articles on How To Talk To Consumers In The Post-Bailout Economy in the weeks ahead. If you'd like to get email updates, just fill out the box below. Thanks for reading.

--Kevin McIntosh

Kevin McIntosh is a freelance copywriter in the Nashville market. His work can be seen at www.KevinMcIntosh.com

Your email address:

Powered by FeedBlitz