As lockdown becomes more of a distant memory, what does the economic bounceback mean for consumers and businesses alike? As part of our virtual ITV Showcase 2021 event, Heather McGregor CBE FRSE, business school professor and former Financial Times columnist, shares her words of wisdom for businesses looking to flourish in the economic bounceback.
The economic recovery
A decade ago, when the UK was coming out of a recession, Heather featured on TV reminding people to “resist the urge to splurge”. However, times are very different today. “We are now in a recovery like no other recovery we’ve seen before,” she says. “Not only is it a different shape and a different speed, but the only thing that people are getting wrong about it is how fast it’s coming back.” She says the Office for Budget Responsibility “consistently underestimate[s]” how fast our economy is growing.
What it means for brands
Although it hasn’t been an equal pandemic for everyone, “we shouldn’t get away from the fact there’s an awful lot of people now who’ve got a lot of cash to burn,” she says. But it’s not just the amount they’re spending that’s different, it’s also the way they’re spending. “We’re going to go from a world,” she says, “where people just bought the first brand that they could think of to one where they actually seek out new experiences and other people’s recommendations and decide what they’re going to buy.” It’s a time where people have more choice and therefore can be “clever with their cash”.
How brands can prepare
It’s about getting out there! Building trust is key in order to win the battle of choice. “You’ve got to be in it to win it,” she says, “because people cannot buy what they cannot see and if you build trust in your brand, it’s going to make it much easier for people to make that buying decision.” Now, as the world reopens and vaccinations increase, it’s about preparing for this period of growth. “So, my question to you is, are you ready? Are you there waiting for those people who cannot resist the urge to splurge?”
Watch the full video
“We’re going to go from a world where people just bought the first brand that they could think of to one where they actually seek out new experiences and other people’s recommendations and decide what they’re going to buy.”Heather McGregor CBE FRSE, business school professor and former Financial Times columnist
Heather’s words in action: Unilever
As part of ITV Showcase 2021, Sebastian Munden, Executive Vice President & General Manager, Unilever UK & Ireland, joined a panel hosted by Adil Ray to discuss the themes shared by Heather and fellow speakers.
He explained that the pandemic has brought about a change in spending habits. Many people are finding it tough and watching their purse strings, but there are also people who are either on the point of or are about to start spending again. “Therefore we have to serve both these markets,” he says, “and try to address everybody in a way that’s authentic.”
Looking at Unilever’s ice cream business, for example, he explains that Ben & Jerry’s and Magnum “sell well in a recession” because although they’re at the top end of the market, they offer a cheaper alternative to other “treat moments” that consumers could engage in.
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