by Aron Caplan, Strategy Director, LIDA
After the 2016 EU referendum, despite much doom and gloom, consumer confidence remained remarkably positive.1Fast forward to 2019, with our current uncertain Brexit outcome, and the picture is very different.1
The British Retail Consortium recently reported that UK spending is at its lowest since the 1990s, with retail sales flat in August 20192. Brexit is a large contributor: 64% of consumers are concerned about declining disposable income – according to a QT report3 quoted in Campaign – up from 52% since November 2018.
Today, brands are rightly taking steps to manage their business whatever the outcome. But it seems few are making efforts to alleviate lack of customer confidence. To put this in perspective, the top concerns for UK companies cover staff4, tax, safety, personal data and transport of goods – rather than customers’ fears.
Staying customer focused is more important than ever
Effectively targeted marketing communications have a key role in improving confidence in your business and in helping you retain customers.Here are the top five tips for using customer communications to bolster retention amid Brexit uncertainty.
Concerns like staffing and personal data are understandable. Yet the ultimate source of all business, the customer, has been given a back seat.This is a fundamental mistake. In uncertain times, it is even more essential for brands to remain customer focused.
TOP FIVE BREXIT TAKEAWAYS
- Tell customers what you are doing about Brexit
With UK business in Brexit planning mode, and the government launching its “Prepare for Brexit” ad campaign, simply telling your customers what you’ve got planned is a good first step. And, of course, you’ll cover both leave and remain scenarios. It shows customers that, despite the uncertainty, your company is in control of its own destiny.
- Take a politically neutral stance
Remember, your customer base comprises both leave and remain voters and passions run deep on both sides. Unless there’s a very strong reason for saying why you support a particular outcome, you should stay customer focused. This even applies to anti-Brexit pan-European businesses, who still need to consider how they will retain UK customers in the event of no deal.
- Interact to gain insight
Sending out a survey to gauge the mood of your customers not only provides valuable insight, it shows you care. The very act of asking for feedback says something positive to your customers. In uncertain times, it’s good to show them you are listening and can help you talk to them in more relevant, impactful ways.
- Pay even greater attention to personalisation
Many studies have found that advertisers who cut their spending in recession lose out in the long run.5 The key tool for effective marketing spend in the age of Brexit is personalisation. 2019 differs from 2008 as digital capabilities now deliver far more precise targeting and budget allocation. Companies and consumers are truly embracing personalisation, as reported by Epsilon research.6
- Remain empathetic and leave fake positivity behind
Finally, brands need to show more understanding. Yes, staying positive instils confidence, However, above all, customers value authenticity. They are increasingly wise to brands that try to pull the wool over their eyes. Now is a good time for random acts of kindness, delivered in the right way and with honest intentions. And adopting a more empathetic tone of voice goes a long way to strengthen the bond with customers.
These are undeniably tough times and, of course, a brand’s priority should be to ensure it has taken all the right steps to keep business running come Brexit. But it has never been more important to stay customer focused. Taking a few relatively easy steps now to communicate effectively with your customers can maintain vital confidence in your brand for the future.