Marketers seeking to reach cash-strapped consumers in the recession may need to broaden their assumptions about which segments they should target.

Jennifer Pelino, evp/media at research and analytics provider IRI, discussed this subject at the Advertising Research Foundation’s (ARF) 2020 SHOPPERxSCIENCE online conference. 

And Pelino counseled brand stewards to “focus on consumers’ pocketbooks,” as the Coronavirus and subsequent recession put stress on households throughout America. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: IRI’s recession guidelines for CPG brands.)

“It's really essential in these challenging economic times to meet all income ranges, focusing on consumer needs at the appropriate value level,” she insisted.

“The idea is that you really should look at your product range and deeply understand the benefits consumers are willing to pay more for, and where your brand equity fits against others – as well as [against] private label in the category.”

Generic products and promotions, for instance, might present a price/value equation to cash-strapped buyers that holds out greater temptation than premium offerings with strong equity, unique benefits, and clear differentiation.

A key element of understanding recessionary shoppers, said Pelino, is the knowledge that a strict focus on income levels is “a little bit blunt and maybe limiting” when formulating strategy. 

The wider contributors that marketers should consider include, for example, people with “high monthly debt relative to monthly income” or a “low credit score”.

Other similar groups might include people with “zero investable assets outside of their home”, “home value relative to their household income” and “lower income versus their neighborhood.”

Pelino suggested that adopting a more nuanced approach can assist marketers in formulating holistic strategies.

“By expanding the definition and layering on other financial cues that indicate households are operating under a tightening budget,” she said, “you can capture that … aspect that might be affecting [purchase decisions for] food and personal care products on the shopping list.”

One example of messaging tailored for cost-conscious audiences came from the 2008/09 recession, she noted, when cereal manufacturer Kellogg’s flagged up the “price per serving” via ads and in-store communications.

Sourced from WARC