NEWS5 May 2022

Marketers warn pandemic has ‘changed consumer expectations of brands’

B2B News Trends UK

UK – New research from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) said that most marketers ( 59%) are finding it harder to predict fast-changing consumer priorities following the pandemic.

Person examining shopping receipt, indicative of the cost-of-living crisis

The survey, which explores the views of 500 UK in-house and agency marketing professionals, shows marketers are concerned about the fitness of their business models. Nine in ten ( 91%) believe their brand must evolve to keep operating and over a quarter ( 28%) feel there is a need to radically overhaul their business model within the next decade in order to survive.

The research shows that the pandemic and rising inflation have increased consumers’ expectations of brands, with a clear prioritisation of convenience, value and values. 

According to marketers, convenience tops the table of the fastest-growing consumer needs ( 83%), closely followed by value for money and environmental impact, which tied in second place ( 78%).

Companies’ performance on diversity and inclusion is in third place           ( 74%), followed by shopping locally ( 73%). Having a physical store to visit is one of the least important consumer needs ( 38%), highlighting a notable shift towards online shopping, which was further accelerated by the pandemic.

Recently, a number of high-profile brands have redrawn their marketing strategy to target the consumer focus on value and values. John Lewis Partnership’s transition from its popular ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ to a focus on ‘Quality and Value’ demonstrates a direct response to consumer needs given rising inflation, says the CIM.

Four-fifths ( 78%) of marketers believe it is their role within their business to represent the voice of the customer. One of the ways professionals are trying to keep pace is through using new technologies – such as customer experience management tools that garner key shopping insights – with three in five ( 60%) investing, or intending to invest, in such tools.

CIM chief executive Chris Daly said: “We are living through extremely turbulent times; from the pandemic and the ongoing climate crisis to rising inflation, and most recently, the Ukraine crisis.

“It’s clear from today’s results that consumers now expect brands to do more than just deliver value, but also actively engage with societal and political issues. If our industry is to really bounce back, marketers must invest time in getting to know their customers and carefully consider what matters to them most.”

He continued: “This latest research should act as a wake-up call for marketers to invest in their training and development. The range of skills expected from marketing professionals continues to expand, which gives us new opportunities to drive change and demonstrate our industry’s value. But to do this, it is vital marketers stay on the forefront of the skills required for the job, or they risk getting left behind.”