Firms must adapt to changing consumer behavior shaped by global risks—report

Bad news about the economy, inflation, climate change, wars and other worrisome developments is dampening people’s natural optimism and putting plans on hold, and this should prompt entrepreneurs to see how growing global risks are shaping consumer behavior and adapt their marketing and communication strategies correspondingly, according to Kantar.

The data analytics and marketing consultant in a new report listed six important strategies and tactics that can help companies better meet people’s evolving needs and challenges.

One of these strategies is to reduce the sense of risk. Kantar advices allaying consumers’ fears by stressing quality, normality, longevity, guarantees, access, affordability, and safety. Create effective communication that demonstrate that people’s risk levels differ and that the company has an investment to match each person’s needs, the consultant added.

TheInsider in a separate blog added: “As the world emerges from the shock of COVID-19, brands will need to find new ways to make their products and services more relevant to how people live in an unstable reality.”

A second ploy is to lift morale, said Kantar. Consumers are exhausted from being reminded about the pandemic and how tough life is. “People don’t necessarily want to be empathised into a state of depression—they want to be lifted out of it.” One way to apply this knowledge of consumer behavior is to use humorous or entertaining communications for uplifting spirits in hard times, the analyst said.

Adding value is another plan worth pursuing. Kantar urges resisting the temptation to cut value in response to slow business. “The division between needs and wants becomes stark at a time like this. But one person’s want is another person’s need and there are numerous ways to create or maintain the value you offer.”

Furthermore, companies should put effective responses to climate change in their priority agenda, Kantar said. Climate change is no longer a niche issue but a burning one that people are coming to grips with. Firms can turn this into a massive opportunity to seize the initiative and help consumers understand and address the impact of climate change.

Innovation is another important tool in response to changing buying patterns. Kantar data show that in difficult times, brands that continue to innovate grow seven times faster than competitors.

According to an article from the Harvard Business Review, chaos presents opportunity for innovation. “Beyond assuring customers that your company’s existing value propositions will remain the same, tell them what innovations have arisen from dealing with the ongoing pandemic—after all, necessity is the mother of invention,” it said.

Finally, it is important that companies “show bravery” and are willing to change their perspective. “Recognising—as your customers certainly do—that business is part of society and the world we all live in puts you firmly on their side,” Kantar said. “Time and again, we see that people want leadership and are failing to find it in traditional places—with low opinions of the political classes and the performance of governments.” This too is an opportunity that companies can leverage.

IT services and consulting firm Accenture in a blog noted that “consumers are more mindful of what they’re buying. They are striving to limit food waste, shop more cost consciously and buy more sustainable options. Brands will need to make this a key part of their offer (e.g. by exploring new business models).”

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