Wed, 25 Jan 2023 13:18:00 GMT
'Find opportunities, not excuses' was the message shared at GfK’s insight forum, which revealed research on Australian consumer trends for 2023. The research showed that 44% of Australian consumers say it's important to indulge or pamper themselves on a regular basis.
According to GfK, which tracks consumer behaviour insights and provides data analytics in 30 markets, this sentiment corresponds with the increase in consumption of products and services in entertainment, health, work, study, cleaning and dining. The report further noted that marketers have the opportunity to capitalise on product category premiumisation - a trend that is driving strong sales value growth. The issue of data accessibility was also highlighted as being critical in helping brands to secure a competitive advantage by leveraging accurate consumer data.
In response to this new research, LBB's Esther Faith Lew asked five notable Australian strategy leaders what their thoughts are on the projected consumer trends and what’s on their radar for the year.
2022 marked the year when an ongoing health crisis met an emerging economic one. After more than 1,000 days of negotiating a pandemic, an understandably fatigued Australian public was now having to contend with escalating petrol prices and mortgage repayments.
In spite of (or, more likely, because of) these concerns, Australians are increasingly looking for moments of respite. As GfK’s outlook points out, 44% say it is important to 'indulge' themselves regularly. We are, it seems, seeking to enjoy life again.
Which reminds me of the other thing that happened in 2022 - 'Top Gun: Maverick'. A critical, commercial, and cultural hit, Tom Cruise and his merry band of pilots took us into the literal clouds and helped us forget the proverbial ones gathering on the horizon. In 2023, I’d love to see brands trying to do something similar. To make a point of delighting people. Entertaining, not just communicating. Delivering joy, however briefly.
Are you with me, Goose?
It’s dead easy to be an asshole with research reports. Not because of what is identified, but the manner in which it is expressed. A tone as if you are hearing it directly from God. I say this because I’m going to be an asshole.
While I appreciate the findings, my issue is the implications. The simplistic jump from what people are doing to what marketers should do. No explanation on what was driving any of it... no context for how it differentiated from other markets... no exploration on how this conflicts or plays into cultural values... no understanding of what ‘premium’ means by audience or category or inspiration... just: ‘marketers can capitalise on category premiumisation’.
This doesn’t mean there’s not interesting information in here, but that’s all it is. And to say they are ‘Australian trends’ is a pretty big call. We are better than this. Australians are more interesting than this. And while understanding habits plays an important role for marketers, having a sense of why – rather than what – is where the real value of research is realised.
2023 is an opportunity to ‘frame value’ in clever ways. We all know the big theme for 2023 is the cost-of-living crisis. Consumers will inevitably trade down or opt for private label for more elastic everyday items, while returning to some of the pandemic behaviours of spending more time at home - whether it’s eating or entertaining - to save money. But I think what the GfK data shows us is some clever examples of ‘framing value’ for bigger ticket items that are usually likely to decline in tough times. For instance, consumers buying an air fryer with some post-rationalisation that cooking at home (at speed) is better value than going out for expensive dinners. Or buying a coffee machine because it will save money on coffee take-aways.
This behaviour is satisfying a need to indulge at home where we’re spending more time, but it is ‘permissible’ because of how the choice is framed in our minds. It somehow feels like good value even though you could be outlaying $300. And we’ve been here before. For example, during the Global Financial Crisis [of the 2010s], Foxtel cleverly framed a subscription (which was seen as an extravagance at the time) as a smarter and more enjoyable way to manage money and nurture family time with 'The Good News Sale'.
The message for marketers in 2023 is to continue to invest in brand priming. We know from past recessionary data that pulling back will affect your brand’s share growth for five years. But there is also opportunity to be smart with how you frame your brand narrative to build a greater sense of value – without moving to a completely new space and abandoning long-term distinctive assets.”
At a time of year when trend reports are flying around, the notion of ‘opportunities not excuses’ in the GfK 2023 report caught my eye. While consumer behaviours, attitudes and interests are changing at an ever-quickening pace, the one source of truth that will help brands navigate this environment is owned data.
As the GFK Report highlights, however, few marketers can move quickly from data gathering to actionable insights. Without the ability to streamline this process, brands are missing out. As covid showed us, brands that can leverage their owned data quickly to capitalise on changing behaviour will stand head and shoulders above the rest. And so, in an environment that demands adaptability, perhaps not being able to do it quickly enough, is no longer a good enough excuse.
I’m bastardising Newton’s Third Law, but this article proves that the physics of every action causing a reaction is not something that’s confined to motion - it also has relevance in marketing. The impact of 'hybrid environments' and people now spending more time at home has created many a doom-and-gloom headline - which have rightly highlighted that this behaviour is negatively impacting some categories and businesses. Yet it’s evident that many are also benefiting from it, as laid out in the data.
In fact, someone smarter than me may even decide to create a clever marketing principle that relates to it. Something to the tune of: ‘Every negative scenario for a brand creates an equally positive scenario for another brand’. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that you never know what’s around the corner. As marketers, we need to embrace this uncertainty, because such unexpected turns may provide the opportunity your brand has unknowingly been waiting for.