Keep your eye on the savvy shopper or fail

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The erosion in disposable income is likely to continue in the early part of 2012, and with little by way of good news expected about the UK economy; marketers should heed the prevailing consumer trend: the professional shopper.

The UK economy is not, technically, in recession. The UK consumer, however, has been suffering for some time. The cost of utilities, petrol and food is rising higher than wages, which, coupled with the sense of fear that comes from seeing unemployment rising, inevitably means that consumers will look to cut back.

A desire to spend less drives behavioural change. Consumers want value and will seek it in ever more imaginative ways, using every tool available to them to check which company is offering the best value.

Supermarkets have already woken up to this. All are lining up to talk about the bargain hunters that are spreading their shopping across several shops in search of the best deals. Indeed, it was Morrisons chief executive Dalton Phillips who talked about the “growing professionalism” of shoppers.

The pursuit of value is not a lone cause either. Online forums, social media and old fashioned word of mouth are hanging those that offer poor value and lauding those that are coming up short.

Amid this environment, it would be wise for consumer facing marketers to consider a number of factors when developing marketing strategy.

Direct mail detailing unfathomable pricing structures that offer no comparisons and no detail on how a consumer can benefit by choosing one brand over another will not wash. If consumers can’t work out if your price is cheaper than rivals’ they are less likely to consider buying your brand.

And secondly, brands should note the wise words of Churchill marketing director Amanda Walker who recently told this magazine that “it is not a good price if it’s not good service”.

In the rush to compete on price, brands should not forget that as quickly as word spreads about bargains to be had, news of poor and good service moves as quick.

Some sectors are likely to see little to no growth so brands operating in those industries will need to offer a customer experience that rivals do not, as well as a competitive price. Advertising, DM included needs to reflect these necessities.

This is the last DM Focus until 2012. Merry Christmas and a happy new year to one and all.

Have you delivered an innovative and effective DM strategy this year? Then enter the digital category in the Marketing Week Engage Awards 2012 by clicking here.

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