I’m trying to come up with a convincing argument for why we might eventually be able to claim that economic recovery was marketing-led. I’m promoting that very idea at the Debating Group’s MCCA sponsored event at the House of Commons next Monday. There’s plenty to fuel such an argument.
Any other organs that one might argue are capable of, or even responsible for, pumping life back into our financial system are currently failing. Politicians and bankers lack public trust and therefore the ability to convince consumers to start spending. That politicians fiddle annoyingly around the edges of our consciousness with their efforts to make it look like they share our outrage at their expenses, demonstrates a lack of insight into their electorate.
The success of good marketers, meanwhile, relies on their ability to understand us. They communicate with us, listen to us and constantly re-evaluate how they can attract or appeal to us. They then use that insight to help drive value back into their businesses.
They know what they need to offer to get us spending again. They know that in a recession we’ll bring our wallets out only for things we really need or brands we really trust. They know when and how we’re going to respond to promotions, added value or whether we’ll spend more because of a “green” or CSR initiative.
Is that cynical? Maybe, but I believe that many brands and businesses genuinely do care about the environment and the world around them – look at the open letter sent by James Murdoch, Justin King, Charles Dunstone and other brand managers to the government this weekend, telling ministers that business arguments for a third runway at Heathrow don’t stack up.
And you know what? Even if brands do only get involved in CSR initiatives to attract our hearts and minds, I’d rather they did the right things for the wrong reasons than the wrong things in any case.
Politicians and bankers can’t get it right, which means brands have a huge opportunity to move into their space. That’s why I’m watching the supermarkets’ latest drive into financial services with great interest. The research highlighted in our trends section (p18), reveals that while 60% of consumers act as if affected by the recession, only 18% of consumers are actually affected. That leaves 42% of the population that could actually spend more if given the incentives to do so. Marketers should be rubbing their hands with glee at the role they can play in the UK’s recovery.