How does Brexit affect marketing professionals?

Posted by: lspr

Growing up, we tell our children not to use the F-Word or the C-Word, but since June 23rd, 2016 there has been a new taboo added to the British vocabulary, the dreaded B-Word; Brexit.

 

Regardless of your personal views on the historic vote, it is clear to see that there has been, and will continue to be, a long period of instability and uncertainty for the UK. The specific levels of uncertainty vary from sector to sector, with speculation across numerous markets leaving everybody with a sense of unease.

But with instability, there is always opportunity. Brands have survived financial crises, political unrest and multiple other calamities throughout the years. Consumers may not be spending as much as they used to be, but they are still spending. The goal is to be the company that consumers think of when they do spend, in order to strengthen your reputation and ensure that your business continues well into the future.

Currently, according to government data, around 30% of food on our supermarket shelves is imported from the EU. If no trade agreement is to materialise, UK supermarkets could well be left with fewer or less affordable choices for the consumer. Although on the surface, this may seem like a negative thing, some are seeing this possibility as a compelling reason to buy British, which gives brands an amazing opportunity to play up their British heritage.

“Consumers tend to say they’re interested in British products…but are they as interested when they’re standing at fixtures comparing the prices of a commodity like butter or cheese?” asks marketing director of Dairy Crest, Lee Willett.

Willet continues, saying that marketing the “Britishness” of a product needs to be handled carefully, and warns that your brand does not want to be seen as jumping on the bandwagon. Dairy Crest, which makes products such as Country Life butter and Cathedral City cheese have  decided to highlight their supply chain and show consumers how they are supporting local farmers.

Willet thinks that by exploring the British origins of these products, it will cause a shift in thinking and create an emotive connection with the product. Similarly, UK Grocery chain Morrisons has run TV campaigns highlighting their close relationship with British suppliers, and the importance they place on locally sourced products.

Although uncertainty remains within the industry, brands like Dairy Crest and Morrisons are examples of how tapping into a sense of loyalty to local products could be the way to steer a path through the ambiguous environment that the Brexit vote has left within the UK.

Trust is a crucial part of the buying experience, and advertising is all about influencing your customers' buying. There are some simple pointers for all companies to follow in order to best navigate their way in the current political landscape. 

 

1.     Consistency is Key

We read a new story in the news about Brexit negotiations every day. One day it's positive, the next, negative. This constant barrage of confusing messages can be overcome by your company if it offers customers the feeling of stability. Let consumers know that it is ‘business as usual’ for your brand, re-affirm that your brands key values will not change, and remind them that you are always working in the best interests of the customer.

2.     Keep your Messages Clear

Use your brand as a way to establish guidance through the political gloom. Keep your messages simple, optimistic and consistent. Consumers will appreciate the comfort of associating your brand with leadership and positivity.

3.     Stay Strong

Strong brands prosper during times of uncertainty. Invest time and money into your brand during tumultuous times and your brand will emerge from the storm stronger than before. Past examples have shown that knee jerk reactions to a crisis often lead to marketing budgets being the first to go within a company.  Standing out in the marketplace is hard enough in regular times when everybody is on a level playing field. As your competition cuts back on ad spending, your commitment to advertising will stand out.

4.     Understand your Audience

We might claim to ‘know our audiences’ but with the vote being so close, it is clear that there is a stark divide in the way that the country lives and thinks.  It is important to actually find the time to ask some questions rather than pretend we have all the answers. Do not judge the views of the 51%, but rather try to understand the drive behind these views. Brands should endeavour to find better ways of connecting with their audiences and explore local communities. By creating more localised campaigns that speak to the deeper needs of these parts of society, your brand will be able to play a strong and consistent role that will only be welcomed by consumers and potential consumers.

 

LSPR are experts in reputation management, branding, and crisis management and will ensure that your brand survives and prospers throughout the Brexit negotiations and in a post-Brexit United Kingdom. Brexit presents numerous potential risks to the economy, consumers, and the advertising industry and advertisers and agencies should look for and exploit the resulting opportunities. The bold and the socially relevant brands will take those opportunities with both hands and prosper as they go forward. Let LSPR help guide your brand towards success with our up to date, practical, 1 – 5 day courses. Led by industry experts and ran in small groups, our courses use case studies, practical examples and exercises give you the knowledge and skills that you need to succeed.

 

 David Fleck, April 18th 2019