Tshiamo Tladi
Tshiamo Tladi

Getting consumers from ‘worried’ to ‘hopeful’

By Tshiamo Tladi, Accenture Song Head of Retail Strategy. Brands need to sell hope to cash-strapped consumers, becoming the supportive ‘friend’ they need in tough times.

By Tshiamo Tladi, Accenture Song Head of Retail Strategy. A new year often means renewed vigor and enthusiasm about the year ahead. However, for most South Africans, the same period often triggers a degree of anxiety about the uncertainty the new year brings with it. The questions that plague most consumers’ minds are how to make it to the first paycheck of the year; and how they navigate all the demands that come at the top of year.

Within South Africa’s context, despite the prospect of lower petrol prices to usher us into 2023 to soften the blow on stretched budgets, consumers are worred about how far each R100 can carry them. To this end, rather than slamming fast tracking all the clever sales tactics we would often use to communicate value for money to consumers and shoppers, I would suggest we take a contrary position.

Rather than pushing an agenda for quick wins with consumers and shoppers over seasonal promotional periods like Back-to-School or Work; I would suggest all brand and product custodians dial up comms that speak to the accessible, reliable, and trusted value that our brand and products offer, both its consumers and shoppers. With tightening wallets, what you do not want is for your brand to be relegated to exchangeable offers from a place of uncompromised and paralleled staples from within my basket.

A dear friend and a gifted marketing mind once captured the relationship consumers have with brands so eloquently. She described brands as “friends we invite into our homes”. And like any good friend, there is a sense of trust, reliability and belief that brands – just like real friends – will consistently be there for us through thick and thin. I would like to believe that brands can take a page out of this to better nurture the richer and deeper relationships with both its consumers and shoppers, rather than only their wallets. For as long as you continue being reliable and keep building trust, you become irreplaceable and importantly, an unforgettable staple in every home and basket.

Brand challenge

The challenge though, for brand custodians, is to answer the question: ‘How then should we approach deploying and using our retail promotional tactics to gain and protect market share?’ I say, do not completely disregard your promotional tactics, but rather review the mix and frequency thereof, to get to a more balanced place that does not make your brand or products overly reliant on it for consideration and regular usage. For instance, given how increasingly concentrated and saturated a lot of promotional discount offers are, with each passing round of promotions, efficacy does effectively wane over time. And consequently, this could result in your brand or product being overly reliant on the same deep promotional discounts to defend and retain its place in shopper baskets  – rather than being chosen for its accessible, reliable, and trusted value, which should be the ideal behaviour.

Selling hope

So how then do we gear our brands to do be chosen for accessibility, reliability, and trusted value? That is where hope comes into play. I’m not talking about the lofty idea of it, but rather the lived, real-world truth of what our product purpose and intended benefit was to its users. One thing that consumers and shoppers are looking for more now than ever, is that sense of trust and reliability. Though this premise is based on a functional promise, it’s the context where we should explore identifying an emotive benefit that would not be realised without the surety that your product and brand is trusted and reliable enough to deliver on its functional premise.

Why do I believe this is particularly importantly looking ahead at 2023? Because things are only going to get tougher on wallets before they get any better. The hope we need to sell consumers is that despite the volatility of everything from interest rates, petrol prices and currency fluctuations, they can still access and rely on the trusted value our brand and product offers them, consistently. And to this end, we need to remind both consumers and shoppers that our brands are not just products, but rather the friends that they can confidently rely on – and therefore, one less thing to worry about.


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