Consumer Confidence and Marketing

Consumer confidence is something that people on Wall Street look at when they want to make bets on where the economy is going. When the number goes up, that means people are feeling better about the general economy, the money they’re taking home after taxes, and the amount of “shopping” they’re able to do. When the number goes down, it means the exact opposite.

Consumer confidence, while it has been rising over the last year, is still generally low. And the question on the table is this – should you change your marketing message to reflect a lower consumer confidence level? Or put differently, how do you market to a scared/hesitant/nervous/cautious consumer?

While most larger companies, who do less direct response marketing and more general brand building, do not change their message to reflect the times, I believe that it should be the best practice. Marketing, in general, is an attempt to make a connection with the consumer. And in order to do this, the message should speak to the consumer. That means changing the message based on changes the consumer is experiencing in their lives.

In uncertain times, marketers’ jobs are more difficult. This is a time when you can offer sympathy for your consumers in the form of specials and discounts, or more general “relationship” starters that do not ask for a purchase or monetary commitment. Form a bond with your consumer so that they know you understand them, and you’re there for them in tough times.

This does not mean you have to go out of your way to remind them that times are tough, because that can have a negative impact. Instead, gently remind them that you’re there to help.

It’s all about the message.