Friday, April 24, 2009

Every Little Helps - Especially Consumer Understanding

As millions of Britons congregate in the nation’s pubs this weekend, there’s no doubt that they’ll be talking about this week’s controversial budget as they quietly sup a beverage that cost 5p less just 7 days earlier. Whatever your political allegiance, it’s fairly obvious that no-one will be raising a glass to Alistair ‘don’t call me’ Darling – unless you’re a member of the marketing community that is.

You see, it’s been a refreshing week for many in the profession, for the simple fact that Labour’s latest financial fiasco allows marketers to focus on a budget that’s tighter than their own. This ‘enjoyable diversion’ is shortlived however, as it dawns that target audiences and consumers now have even less (a hard feat, admittedly) to spend.

One group of marketers that don’t have this budget-inflicted headache however, is the Marketing Team clocking in each day at Tesco HQ. On the same week that the Government announced a predicted 3.5% shrinkage in the economy, more tax hikes and unprecedented borrowing that won’t balance until 10 years have passed, Tesco published record profits – yet again.

So just how have the grocery giants managed this remarkable feat when all around them is falling away – or is that the precise reason for their latest set of figures? There’s clearly less competition than there was a year ago, and previously loyal consumers are now adding cheap CDs, mobile phones and insurance to a shopping basket containing a pint of milk and the daily paper.

But despite this astute expansion of lines, Tesco has got the fundamental basics of marketing in a recession right – quite simply, it understands its consumers. Over the past 6 months, Tesco shoppers have seen a range of discount brands hit the shelves, offers on staples and initiatives such as the ‘fruit and veg pledge’.

Unlike many of us, Tesco may not have to worry about their marketing budget, but money aside, it’s this intrinsic understanding of customers that drives them from one success to the next. Perhaps it’s time we started focusing on consumers once again, safe in the knowledge that someone out there has a worse budget than the marketing community…

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