the New Normal – measuring how far client’s bravery (and budget) will stretch

Firstly, apologies for the lack of activity here in the last week or two, the result of being manically busy at work combined with a horse-so-lame-it-has-to-go-to-the-horse-hospital crisis.


I’ve been thinking a lot about what is the New Normal, by which I mean what has shifted as a resulted of the downturn economy, but isn’t likely to shift back in a hurry.

I think there are three key areas that have seriously shifted and affect what I do for a living – clients and their marketing budgets, attitudes towards market research and consumer values. 

So let’s start today with Part One – clients and their marketing budgets:

For clients (and especially FMCG clients), it now seems to be all about not just measurability and ROI, but the need for instant results.  The idea of investing in marketing activity in order to build a brand that might pay back in terms of brand affinity, loyalty, value or listings several years down the line is being laughed out of boardrooms at the kind of challenger brands I work with.

It seems that activity has to be not only measurable, but predictable.  Quite how you’re supposed to be able to accurately predict what short term effect a packaging redesign or PR campaign is going to have on rate of sale is still beyond me.

I suppose it comes down to the fact that FMCG clients in particular are scared – for their results, for the job and very scared of their stockists.  I sat in a challenger brand boardroom on Friday presenting the thinking behind an on-pack campaign for 2010, only to be told by Sales that the only three things the mults will currently respond to are TV exposure, supplier funded price promotions or a big fat listings cheque.  And without your listing, you have no sales at all…

In Challenger Brand Land, serious TV exposure (with the through the line support that it merits and deserves) is usually out of reach.  So what do you spend the year’s low to medium six figure budget on then?  A coupon campaign?

Oh no, silly me.  Digital of course.  The only predictable, measurable, responsive option clients seem to have left.  Which is probably why we currently spend so much as an agency with google that they even turn up to lecture at our in-house training courses…

roi doodle

by Russell via flickr, CC applies

Part two attitudes towards market research and part three consumer values to follow soon…

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