In the last year, we’ve faced uncertainty in almost every aspect of our lives. Amidst the unrelenting and fraught news headlines, it can be difficult as a marketer to know how to respond effectively to match what consumers are feeling, thinking and buying.
For consumer goods brands to successfully navigate consumer sentiment during uncertain times, the best path forward is usually finding middle ground — and leveraging advanced analytics to test digital media strategies can make it easier to maneuver.
How Marketers Should Respond to Uncertain Times
In determining marketing strategy during uncertain times, the most important thing is to know your customer base. Do your customers expect their favorite brands to express an opinion on current events, or are they averse to it?
It’s also important to look at holistic data, which you can mine in near real-time using advanced analytics, to be clear and consistent in your messaging and provide meaningful, true-to-brand insights.
Authenticity is important, too. When the formerly-named Aunt Jemima brand changed its name due to its insensitive branding, the change was “too little, too late” for many. After officially changing its name to Pearl Milling Company, an Ad Age-Harris poll shows that while two-thirds of consumers are aware of the name change, only 23% would be more likely to buy from the brand — and, more notably, 28% said the update would make them less likely to buy Pearl Milling Company products.
The fact of the matter is that you’ll probably alienate someone, no matter how you proceed. Brands that really understand their customers can confidently take a stand and make that tradeoff — Nike is a perfect example of this. But for most, it’s best to find a middle ground and determine if voicing an opinion — whether supporting or condemning events — presents an opportunity for your brand in the long run.
The importance of advanced analytics for navigating marketing strategy
Advanced analytics can help brands determine the best course of action. Technology can look at thousands of data points to understand trends, enabling companies to manage data to drive strategic decisions and extract market intelligence and predictive insights. With all of the data localized, marketers can observe consumer commentary surrounding current events to gauge public sentiment.
Next, test messaging quickly and with minimal risk prior to going big. Digital media campaigns are an excellent place to run live tests to track business value of analytical insights. Leveraging search and social media advertising to run experiments in specific regions or demographics is also a smart way to gather data before investing in a larger values-centric marketing effort.
Looking forward, brands will increasingly rely on advanced analytics to make informed business decisions, particularly as the stakes get higher in regards to consumer preferences surrounding messaging on current events. It’s crucial for brands to stay true to their authentic brand identity, be clear with consumers where they stand (if making a stance presents a beneficial opportunity for the brand), and stay in touch with their consumer base to ensure that core messaging aligns with consumer preference.
These actions can help simplify and inform better decisions, and along with utilizing advanced analytics tools to gut check a marketing strategy, they can help brands move quickly and efficiently to keep up with the rapid pace of the world in which we live — and shop.
Margo Kahnrose is CMO of Kenshoo.