The media world is currently awash with invaluable advice on the need for brand advertising during an economic downturn, but we can’t forget that successful marketing requires balance - brand AND activation.
By Lindsay Rapacchi, Research & Insight Director
Brand! Recession looming! Brand! Brand! Brand!
That’s the advice at the moment and it is undoubtedly correct. To survive a recession you simply must brand - and at scale. Fail to brand and you will lose market share, consumers will forget who you are, and you will struggle to win it all back. But what about brand's trusty sidekick, activation? Why is no-one talking about its superpower?
As the marketing effectiveness expert Les Binet stated; “You need to do both jobs because each enhances the other, and you need to do them in balance”. And I’m currently concerned we’re in danger of forgetting that this is indeed a balancing act, with the need to not only prime as many potential customers as possible, but also activate likely in-market buyers.
Yet, I’ve seen very little written about activation during a recession. Frightening really when you consider that we could be amidst difficult economic conditions for the next two to three years. How many brands can successfully spend this time focusing solely on branding? At some point you’re going to have to think about converting demand, and that means activation.
However, don’t immediately turn you attention on reading this to your preferred digital performance channels, because that’s NOT necessarily where the money is…
According to the latest ONS figures, 60% of all retail spend is offline. And this doesn’t look set to change. In fact, the dominance of offline spend has only increased since the cost-of-living crisis began. Though, despite offline receiving the lion’s share of consumer spend, how many of you can really say you have a clear strategy in place to actively target that spend?
That’s where we can help, with our new research study Control the Controllable: A Retail Strategy for the Real World.
Based on evidence from our consumer journey planning tool TRACE, coupled with a national consumer survey, Control the Controllable offers valuable insights into what’s going through consumers’ minds while they’re shopping offline and how you can influence their spend.
And the good news is that this spend is all up for grabs as we uncovered that 40% of consumers are still making crucial brand decisions at the point of sale. Which brands they will buy, how much they’ll spend and who’ll they’ll buy from are all still to play for. But how do you go about influencing those decisions?
While we may not realise it, real world retail environments are awash with messages, all competing for their share of that 60%. Even the briefest stroll through a UK high street or shopping mall will see you exposed to countless touchpoints - everything from shop windows, in-store displays and poster sites, to mobile ads and product trial.
The trick is to understand which channels to focus your efforts on and how. One way to do that is to identify the channels you can control, and, of those channels, concentrate on the ones that have a significant impact on the consumer.
I won’t give too much away but, suffice to say, when you look at the evidence you’ll see that the case for using digital screens on UK high streets and in shopping malls is a compelling one - affording brands significant control and influence.
If you want a chance to grab hold of 60% of retail spend, then it’s time to get balancing. It’s time to Control the Controllable.