With consumer spending expected to increase by just 2.1% in real terms globally in 2012 – the slowest rate of growth since 2009 – companies are having to fight harder for their consumers’ hearts and minds. Social unrest, rising income inequality and high unemployment are combining to propel demands for fairness and this pervades all aspects of life – including purchasing behaviour. With brand loyalty a victim of the recession consumers are switching their allegiances and traditional bonds between consumers and brands are a thing of the past for many consumers.
Cost-conscious consumers are increasingly looking for more. That products offer good value for money should now be a given; in addition consumers crave the three Ts: Transparency, Trust and Togetherness.
Transparency – Supply chains must be transparent and provenance clear. Returns policies and small print should be apparent. The consumer spotlight can fall on any aspect of your business and social networking has made it easy for consumers to fight back against perceived misinformation. Companies must present themselves and their products both clearly and honestly.
Trust – Consumers need to trust brands. One aspect of this is green credentials. Euromonitor International’s Annual Study 2011 found that consumer trust in green and ethical labels is lower than interest in them. This is a fundamental problem for brands because trust underlies the whole concept of green purchasing.
Togetherness – Less tangible, but garnering a sense of us all being in it together can help broaden brand appeal. Being human through use of social networking, building a product’s values, beliefs and attitudes and aligning them with those of your consumers can all help in this regard.