Consumer Fight (Back) Club!!!
So that’s it. After two weeks of exhaustive customer research into the highs and lows of poolside life – plus cocktails – the TMP summer is over. To be honest there were very few lows, unless you count Alejandro temporarily running out of triple sec for my afternoon Cosmopolitan. My return to TMP Towers makes it feel like we’re heading into the last stretch of 2015 and with that comes a certain amount of reflection.
Back in October last year, the market research bods at Mintel identified four key consumer trends for the year ahead. Along with a predicted rise in smart devices and wearable technology, more sophisticated click and collect services and a demand for clean, green products, they forecast a growing awareness of customer rights. Backed by media coverage of bad company practice – and the new Consumer Rights Bill – Mintel said that we’d all get a lot more vocal about bad practice and poor standards of service.
I’m not sure we’re there on wearable technology – Google Glass, anyone? – but when it comes to consumers demanding good service and fair pricing I think they got it spot on. What’s been really surprising is that it’s not just our own rights we’ve been fighting for.
Make mine a milk.
Trying to find a British farmer who’s happy about milk prices is about as easy as finding a needle in one of their arable neighbours’ haystacks. Over the past year alone the price they’re paid for milk has fallen by 25%. The bad guy in all this? Our friends at the big four supermarkets. Tesco and Sainsbury’s have agreed to cut producers in on more of their profits but Asda and Morrisons are being slow to follow suit. Cue protests that include farmers clearing shelves of milk cartons and even leading a herd of cows around the aisles of their stores. You’ve got to hand it them, that’s a pretty good protest – with the bonus of keeping bored kids thoroughly entertained during the summer holidays.
What’s really surprising is that consumers, rather than being annoyed at the disruption, have been in support of the farmers’ actions. After one supermarket was cleared of the white stuff, customers were asked by their local rag if they supported the rural rebels – and a resounding 73% said that they backed them all the way.
What’s going on?
Consumers are mobilising. It’s reflected in the success of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership campaign. Whatever your political views, it shows that people want to be part of a movement, to feel empowered. It’s the exact opposite of the austerity years, where consumers felt powerless to do anything against rising food prices and falling wages. If there’s one thing the past few years have taught customers is that our hard-earned readies are precious and we all need to be more choosey about where we spend them.
What’s changed is that we’re no longer just looking for a bargain. Yes, price is important but not at all costs. Consumers are starting to lift their heads up and look at the bigger picture – economic recovery isn’t just personal any more. For years, stores have enticed customers with low prices and milk has been a key product in the UK’s supermarket wars. Tesco used to charge 89p for two pints of milk – now it only charges 75p. It was a great strategy – until now.
Don’t worry my TMP faithful, it’s fantastic news for businesses – if you get it right. During hard times ethics tend to get lost in the daily grind of making ends meet, so the fact that customers are rediscovering their principles shows that consumer confidence is growing.
So how do we play this one?
Loud and proud! As I’ve said before, it’s all about reflecting the values of your market – we want to use businesses that are ‘people like us’. So what do you do to support British business? If you can’t think of anything, I’d take a serious look at your services or product line because I reckon this one’s going to be a trend that keeps on running. With the EU referendum debate set to continue into 2016 and beyond, consumers are only going to become more active in using their spending power to support British businesses. Whether you’re a small deli who sells local produce, or a manufacturer sourcing parts from UK factories, get ready to shout about it. Being British is big business – as long as you’re giving suppliers a fair deal.
To make the most of this growing trend you need to understand where your customers are coming from – and to do that you need to see your business through their eyes. It’s where The Monachie Project comes in. We analyse your brand from the customer’s perspective, so that we can let you in on the emotional values they attach to your brand. With information on the emotive forces that are influencing consumers, you can make decisions based on a complete picture of your market.
Want to position your business in a way that clearly communicates the differentials that set you apart? Get in touch and let our team of consumer research consultants be your eyes and ears.
Whatever your business – cocktails not obligatory – we’d love to hear from you.