How can FMCG market responsibly? | Clear Channel

How can FMCG market responsibly in a cost-of-living crisis?

16 Apr 2023 / Insights, News
By Clear Channel UK View Author on Twitter

Our webinar, in partnership with Grocer vision, aired on Tuesday 28th March, and explored how many UK consumers are struggling to manage higher living costs, and the challenges brands and retailers face to strike the right chord with their marketing strategies.

Hosted by Megan Tatum, joining her on the couch were expert panellists Raphael Capitani (Senior brand manager, Mondelez), Jane Ostler (EVP, Global thought leadership, Kantar), Ruth Fittock (Marketing director, Simply Roasted), and Colin Horan (Strategic partner FMCG, Clear Channel).

You can stream the full webinar on-demand here.

Looking ahead...

We know from previous crises that brands can often feel an urge to press pause on marketing in times of upheaval. What we also know from these historic examples, though, is that doing so can cause long-term damage. So, if keeping the momentum up on marketing is the right choice, it's important to know exactly what type of marketing strategy is both responsible and resonates with consumers. This webinar covered a breadth of topics, providing practical insights and advice on building the right marketing strategies for the year ahead.

Put your consumer first 

Raphael from Mondelez emphasized the importance of empathy in marketing, putting consumers first, understanding their current needs and behaviours, and adapting marketing strategies accordingly. Some new behaviours are emerging as consumers justifiably take a cautious approach to spending, but there are also some established behaviours that are not necessarily changing, for example a desire for everyday luxury. Consumer research is crucial for making informed decisions and remaining relevant to your target audience in these uncertain times.

“Successful brands, they are the ones that understand their consumers the most and they're the ones that keep relevant to their consumers at all times.” Raphael Capitani, Mondelez

Philadelphia advert on a roadside poster

Stay true to your brand

The panellists highlighted the need to stay true to a brand's foundations while adapting communication messages accordingly. By doing so, businesses can maintain their brand identity and build trust with their audience. Ruth from Simply Roasted advised businesses to listen to consumers and to be flexible and willing to adapt, but not panic during a crisis. People will turn to brands that they trust and love during difficult and challenging times, so keeping the foundations of good marketing in mind is essential for success.

"I think it's about looking at value and value doesn't necessarily need to mean price or cost. Yes, consumers are looking to save money. But that isn't the only thing they're looking for from brands." Ruth Fittock, Simply Roasted

Be meaningful, different, and salient

Jane from Kantar expanded on this further by explaining that brands must be meaningful, different, and salient to grow in the current climate. Businesses must understand what consumers think about them, make a difference in their lives, and stand out from competitors by using their distinctive brand assets. Being visible and present with quality creative in the right places is crucial for remaining salient and front of mind with consumers.

Warburtons poster on Sainsbury's Live poster

Don't do nothing, keep investing

All the panellists agreed that underpinning all of this is the need to keep investing in marketing. The solution to marketing during a crisis is not to stop, but rather to carefully reflect on messaging, media, and consumer feedback to create campaigns and content that strike the right chord and support costomers. Hitting pause on a campaign can damage short term sales as well as brand salience and communications awareness, which can take years to recover. Colin from Clear Channel also cited the recent pandemic as an example of a period where brands that continued to communicate with consumers and connect with them in an authentic way, are now really seeing the long-term benefits of that marketing investment.

For brands that do press pause, what's the potential impact? “It's actually quite profound. Analysis we’ve done shows that even if you cut it by 50%, there are negative effects. But not as bad as stopping marketing altogether.” Jane Ostler, Kantar

Evian advert on a Adshel Live poster at a bus stop

Drill down into your media mix

“Context is always important, so it's not always what you say, it's where you say it. The questions we're being asked from clients and agencies is that, if we want to be responsible as a business, then we need to look at media as part of our supply chain, we need to invest in responsible media channels.” Colin Horan, Clear Channel

The conversation ended on to the importance of balancing a brand's media mix and selecting channels that convey appropriate tone and messaging with consumers in the current climate. The panellists emphasised the need to understand what each channel is doing and how they work together as part of a broader media strategy, focusing on a blend of both brand building and short-term metrics.   

Colin explained that consumers increasingly expect brands to behave responsibly and align to their own personal values. Out of Home advertising is unique as it provides physical infrastructure for the public. 50p in every pound invested in Out of Home helps fund that public infrastructure and create a positive impact on communities. Understanding this context makes Out of Home a safe space to advertise during the cost-of-living crisis, but also makes it an attractive option for clients and agencies looking to invest in responsible media channels.

This webinar was an engaging and insightful discussion into how businesses can adapt their marketing strategies during a cost-of-living crisis. By putting consumers first, conducting consumer research, staying true to brand foundations while adapting messages, and most importantly, continuing to invest in marketing, brands can remain relevant and competitive during challenging times.

You can stream the full webinar on-demand here.

We also have an instantly downloadable PDF guide on how to brand build during a cost-of-living crisis, for businesses looking for further practical advice on adapting their marketing strategies.

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