Brands and retailers need to be more creative with promotions

Adam Leigh, chief executive of The Communications Agency, explores why brands and retailers need to get more creative with their in-store promotions.  

Adam Leigh
Adam Leigh

We have done much research over the past two years into consumer trends and attitudes towards brands and retailers throughout the economic downturn, and there is one overriding belief that retailers should be giving better deals.

Of the consumers we surveyed, 88% expected an offer or discount. The knock-on effect of this for retailers and brands, which are under heavy financial pressures themselves, is that they need to find more creative ways to give consumers what they want. They need to be able to think beyond price as a way to get people into their stores or buying their products.

While advertising budgets have come under threat throughout the recession, promotional budgets have remained strong, as both brands and retailers have realised that the battle for sales and market share has been pushed onto the shop floor. This has meant that retail outlets have become fraught with marketing clutter. Making yourself heard over the clambering of sales messaging is no mean feat, and goes a long way to explaining why we, as an agency, are seeing an increasing number of promotional briefs calling for something different.

One of the keys to engaging with your audience is to understand what they want and then to give it to them; take the market that your brand or store is operating in and try to reflect what you think the needs of your consumers are – while this may sound obvious, you’d be surprised by the amount of marketing activity that doesn’t have this at its core.

For example, one of the consequences of the past 12 months or so has been that people place much more value on their leisure time. If as a brand or retailer you can find a way to help your customers enjoy their lives more, offering them a window of distraction from the madness of the world around, it can be incredibly positive.

We know from our research that 73% of people believe the recession has made them a better person, and brought them closer to their families and loved ones. Giving these people opportunities to get out more to enjoy time with those around them through such things as a great meal deal or day passes – you don’t have to be talking about fulfilling all their dreams – can give you a strong hook.

The reality is that consumers have become more expectant. Research shows that more and more people are shopping online, and relying on word of mouth, which has empowered them to make their own decisions, and to shop around for the best deals. This means that finding new and creative hooks to bring people in is now more important than ever, and it will continue to be this way.

Brands will need to put much more store by their promotional activity than their brand building, as consumers will simply not allow us go back to how we were.

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