Even in a tough economy, people still have to eat, get to work, buy Halloween costumes for their kids, and so on. The big question, as they decide how they are going to do these things, is whether or not they have a powerful emotional connection to a brand that actually delivers significant value to their lives. If they do, they will lean toward that brand. If they don’t, they will lean away.
We should see the problems consumers face in today’s economy for what they are: an opportunity for growth. At Zimmerman, we believe that the business is out there. We take it as an article of faith that the only “new reality” that matters is our own ability to remember that the consumer’s money is every bit as important as ours. And so is the client’s.
We believe in building brands over time while driving sales overnight, starting right now.
Under the Brandtailing™ methodology, we give consumers a better reason to buy than price. We do that by establishing an emotionally compelling value proposition for the brand. At Nissan, for instance, the value proposition is style and power. At Papa John’s, the value proposition is better ingredients in a better pizza. At Party City, the value proposition is more party for less — meaning a great selection and great support at a competitive price. (That’s not the same thing as the lowest price!)
Our mantra these days is: “I see there is a recession and I choose not to participate.”
So: What is happening in our economy right now? I’ll tell you. More than ever before, consumers want their money’s worth, and I don’t blame them. But anyone who thinks that that means people will now refuse to spend a little more for a brand or a premium experience is wrong. Look at all the consumers choosing to go to Party City rather than Walmart, ordering Papa John’s rather than Pizza Hut, or driving Nissan rather than Honda. Whatever their confidence level is about in the larger economy, consumers remain confident in certain brand experiences, and excited about them.
Yes, there are some heavy pressures on some consumers right now.
Yes, there is a lot of uncertainty in our economy as a whole, and in the retail sector particularly.
Yes, there are far fewer discretionary dollars for consumers to spend than there were a few years ago.
But I don’t believe that any of this means that consumers are now destined to be permanently wary of anything but store brands and coupon-driven purchases. Some brands really are thriving, right now … because those brands deliver strong value and a better buying experience. No: Consumers are not in permanent shock. They just want to be damn sure they really are getting a dollar’s worth of value when they spend a dollar. It’s our job to make sure they receive that value.
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