Click here to read the cover feature: Just how prepared are you for 2011?
Click here to see which 2010 campaigns were voted the best by marketers
Click here to read about brand budgets in 2011
Click here to read what consumer behaviour Richard Madden thinks marketers should be mindful of in the year ahead
Click here to check out the brands to watch in 2011
The government spending review in October last year, and the VAT rise to 20% that came into force on 4 January are prompting a shift in consumer spending. The rise in VAT will mean a £6.2bn increase overall in household spend, while discretionary income will drop by £2.3bn in 2011, with the average UK household £225 a year out of pocket.
Research by The Futures Company points towards the emergence of a new, recession-forged consumer mentality. The global trends consultancy reported in October 2010 that 57% of consumers agree with the statement “I find myself thinking twice before making even the smallest day-to-day purchase”. Below, marketers suggest how they plan to adjust the way they communicate with consumers.
The answer in 2011 is to become channel neutral believes Ashley Stockwell, Virgin Media’s departing executive director of brand and marketing. “It’s not just about driving people into stores or onto the phones, it’s driving them wherever they want to go. Part of the challenge is getting the balance right between all of the sales and marketing channels that you have because consumers are probably more in control than they’ve ever been, in terms of how and where they get their information and how and where they purchase.”
Reid Holland, marketing director at Hachette Filipacchi UK, agrees that finding the right balance of above- and below-the-line communications will be crucial in terms of connecting with consumers in 2011. He says: “Partly, this is down to how we apportion our budgets, but increasingly it’s also about how we focus our teams and balance the use of our time. So, while we may be spending more on above-the-line in 2011 than we did in 2010, we’ll also be using online, social networks and blogger outreach a great deal more too.”
Television and online are core channels that Nickelodeon will be investing time and money in during the year ahead to reach its consumers, according to the children channel’s UK marketing director Steven Brabenec. He says: “TV works and continues to work for us. There’s nothing like it for achieving immediate cut-through and awareness. With online, it’s not so much that you continue to increase spend every time, it’s more that you have to look at how you’re using it and where, because kids are the digital natives. They’re the ones who are always one step ahead. We’re constantly looking at where kids are, what they’re doing online, where they’re interacting.”
But David Warfel, director of global marketing at Zippo, warns against rushing to embrace each innovation that emerges. He believes clever marketers will evaluate the worth of new channels and emerging technology to ensure they match the needs and goals of the brand. “Those [channels] that make sense should be integrated into the marketing mix. Media or technological innovation should not lead the way. Successful marketing should continue to be led by a strong and focused media strategy,” he argues.
Online is no longer seen as a new channel, but many marketers say they need to focus on developing this channel in 2011. Tanya Kelly, global marketing director at Direct Wines, thinks a solid online platform will be essential this year. She says: “We are upgrading our web platform because, like most people, we see that as being an ever more important part of our mix – it is our online presence and selling platform. It is quite hard to extrapolate exactly what is marketing spend on the web, what is brand spend and what is just spend you need to make to have a decent offering on there.”
“Online is at the heart of Match,” says managing director, Karl Gregory. And this channel is not just about experimenting with social media, he argues. “For us, social media is not a singular channel that sits independently of our other activities. It is one of the few routes to customers that touches almost every marketing discipline, interfacing with PR, customer service, online acquisition and brand building. In 2010 we have seen a real shift in the number of consumers who are willing to interact with branded pages, and I would expect this to continue into 2011 as brands develop more relevant and engaging content.”
Other marketers will not be changing the way they spend their money in 2011. At Santander, online spend will be maintained in 2011, while television will still be an important channel “because it is still the best engagement medium for the mass market”, says Keith Moor, director of brand and communications at Santander.
However, the way online marketing is executed at the Spanish bank will change “to make the model more engaging” adds Moor. “We’ll continue to look at apps, whether that be on Facebook or the iPhone. We’ll probably do a bit more on mobile and watch where the developments are going.”
The overall challenge for marketers in 2011 will still be the idea of getting integration right in a fragmented media with fragmented audiences, thinks Keith Weed, chief marketing officer at Unilever. “Unilever board colleagues understand the reasons for the shifts from traditional media to new and more social media. There isn’t a lot of convincing that needs doing. These are people who are all on iPads and understand the revolutions going on around us. It’s my job, however, to deliver the capability of the organisation, but in that respect I’m pushing against open doors. How fast we scale it is more about how quickly we can get our 5,700 marketers up to speed.”