Marketing advice for inflationary times

    Consumers were already tentative. Now, inflation continues to climb, driving up costs for everything from restaurant meals to electronics. And the vicious cycle of labor shortages and supply chain issues has created product delivery and service challenges for just about every sector. And it’s costing you more just to advertise.

    You know the headlines and the marketplace realities they have created. But what should your marketing look like during these turbulent times?

    What not to do as stuff hits the fan

    It’s tempting to just keep your head down until it all blows over. After all, why promote what may or may not be available to sell? Of course, you will need to raise prices to cover the increased costs.

    Unfortunately, this combination of going quiet and increasing prices will leave you out of sight, out of mind and out of the purchase decision altogether. You may cut costs in the short run, but it will be at the expense of long-term loyalty and awareness. And it could make your product optional to the point of forgettable.

    For example, quick service restaurants catering to highway travelers may see reduced traffic as gas prices keep people at home more. Those who do venture out are more likely to see burgers and fries as optional due to tighter wallets.

    These conditions are ideal for smart marketers to swoop in and make themselves top-of-mind between trips, to win those trips and to establish themselves as the new go-to for trips well after the economic dust settles.

    Instead of going quiet and risking irrelevance, here are three strategies tailor-made for marketing in inflationary times:

    First, focus on staying top of mind

    Brands that invest in marketing during economic downturns are positioned to win the day when buying habits inevitably shift. Short-term losses are likely, but those losses are an investment in maintaining awareness and loyalty.

    Second, cater to the need to save

    More consumers are showing value-seeking behaviors and they are showing that they value even more those brands that deliver uncomplicated savings. If you offer a deal, you will not only meet a real need, but you will also play to the heart.

    Statistics from consumer research showing that consumers are looking to save

    Using coupons and other incentives may be exactly what is needed to attract shoppers who are ready to trade down or even skip the purchase altogether. And in the process of securing the sale, you’re likely to improve satisfaction and get on their list for the next purchase.

    Stats from Vericast 2021 Deals & Coupons Report

    Third, lean in on technology for smart advertising

    Labor issues and supply chain disruptions have made it so that at times, there may be no product to sell even if consumers are in the mood to buy. Restaurants and retailers have abbreviated hours, grocery stores have recurring out-of-stocks, and some products, like cars and electronics, require extra lead time. So, it is particularly important to match your marketing to the available inventory to maximize sales opportunities. That is a matter of working smarter, not harder.

    • Target the inventory. Marketing technology enables automatically advertising based on when and where the product is available. Not only does this minimize ad waste, but it also reduces consumer frustration.
    • Hyper target your best audiences. Advertising is much more effective if you zero in on your ideal audience – from switchers to loyalists – based on their purchase intent, interests and location data, instead of just casting a wide, indiscriminate net.
    • Diversify channels. Instead of concentrating your advertising power with a couple of big outlets, strategically use a range of options and maintain the flexibility to target areas with better inventory levels.

    Connecting your brand to consumer needs

    As tough as it may be to effectively advertise with these economic headwinds, times are particularly tough for consumers right now. And the more empathy a brand can have and show, the more impact it will have. While the exact tactics may vary, going quiet is the last thing you should do.


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