Margaret Gilsenan selects three emerging trends which she believes Irish marketers ought to consider
It’s that time of year again. The time when countless groups, individuals and organisations have a go at predicting trends. In those that I have examined so far, three themes emerge that I thought worth mentioning or exploring further: namely uncertainty, cost of living and quiet quitting.
Everyone agrees on this one. War, cost of living, fuel, Covid, climate, have everyone on edge. The implication of uncertainty is that people become more cautious and more risk averse. Purchasing behaviours change. We see the emergence of ‘considered’ consumption. Think of it like our purchasing decisions have gone from green to orange or red, and it is up to us as marketers to figure out if and how we can switch the decision to green.
From a marketing point of view, this involves more nuanced thinking and targeting. Who is likely to buy, in what context, and what are the triggers that will push purchase? Uncertainty can also paralyse the decisions we make as marketers. ‘Marketing is a cost’ so can be cut is a sentiment that some organisations allow to prevail, when all the data (Binet & Field etc) shows that brands that continue to invest during tougher times, do better and recover faster than those that don’t.
It is our responsibility as marketers and brand guardians to ensure that those who control the purse strings are aware of this data. In our communications, we must give efficiency and effectiveness equal consideration. There is no point slashing our marketing budgets, changing our channel mix, and consoling ourselves that we have got great value, if the channels we choose fail to deliver.
Shoppers’ need to be more savvy: There has been a 22 per cent net increase in shopping in discounters like Lidl globally over the last year, the Bord Bia Inflationary Impact 2022 study indicates. In Ireland, the increase was even higher at 30 per cent. The number of shoppers buying own label climbed to 44 per cent, with a shift toward the ‘value’ ranges in stores instead of the so-called premium ranges. Making lists has become important too.
COST OF LIVING
This is one of the key contributors to uncertainty. As I type, prices are increasing. Stamps, food and everything in between are all creeping up by cents, which collectively make up hundreds of euros. Across the globe we see lower consumer confidence as consumers feel the pinch.
Bord Bia’s Inflationary Impact 2022 survey reports that across the organisation’s key markets 44 per cent of people report that their current financial situation is poor or very poor. On the plus side – which newspaper headlines tend to avoid – one in two declare themselves as comfortable. Mind you, the report adds that it does reflect a decline of nine percentage points over the past year.
The questions to ask, can your brand service the needs of the people who are struggling financially. There are lots of ways to do this. For instance, Unilever’s Hellmann’s mayonnaise have been good at doing this with recipes on using store cupboard ingredients, and leftovers. How can you convince those shoppers in consideration mode to choose your brand?
Even luxury brands have got in on the act of helping customers and having a sustainability play. The Economist reported that in 2023 LVMH and Tommy Hilfiger will offer repair services to consumers. Hugo Boss will have a resale platform where used fashion items can be sold.
This is an interesting one. Although it has momentum behind it, there is no consensus on it. Quiet quitting is defined as “doing the minimum requirements of one’s job and putting in no more time, effort, or enthusiasm than absolutely necessary” (Source: Investopedia). The trend emerged through Covid and has been getting a lot of coverage as the successor of the Great Resignation.
As presented, it could have employers quaking in their boardrooms, worried about a company full of ineffectual employees. But more recently as a concept it is being challenged. The view being that this is nothing new. It’s just a fancy new term for employee discontent, and that the term was invented as part of the recent phenomenon to pathologise everything.
That there have, in fact, always been people who just get their job done. The point being potentially missed in the sensational descriptor is that these people are getting their work done. The lesson to be aware of from this trend is one of retention rather than ineffectiveness, that these quiet quitters are probably quite likely to leave if a better offer comes their way.
If the above trends, don’t float your boat, let’s see what the prophet of doom, Nostradamus, predicted back in the 16th century. The upside is that his forecasts run to 3797, so he’s not predicting the end of the world. “Like the sun the head will sear the shining sea: The Black Sea’s living fish shall all but boil” (climate crisis?); “celestial fire on the royal edifice” (Prince Harry’s outpourings?) and “seven months great war, people dead through evil” (Russia’s war in Ukraine?).
Margaret Gilsenan is founder and chief strategy officer at Boys+Girls