Generosity needed to reach “Generation G” consumers
Identifying a firm as generous is becoming increasingly important for marketers in the economic downturn. Jayne Mayled, MD of Jupiter Design, explains how the concept is evolving.
Despite some green shoots of recovery appearing, the effects of the economic downturn on consumer behaviour and spending will not quickly dissipate as people are still fearful about their job security, and retailers will feel this sharply.
It has therefore never been more important to place emphasis on ensuring that the trust and support of loyal customers is maintained. Retailers need to incorporate into their strategy a focus on developing loyalty from their customers in the long term, demonstrating that they are better than the competition and cutting through consumer apathy.
In addition to this, consumers are starting to shun pure consumerism and associated greed, with many believing it contributed greatly to the economic mess in the first place. Instead, people are rallying around the generosity, creating a demographic dubbed ‘Generation G’ by marketers.
‘Generosity’ is a whole way of thinking and should be meshed in with an organisation’s marketing and overall business strategy. With consumers taking on this mindset and brands competing for market share, it is key for retailers to demonstrate that they are a ‘generous’ brand to all of their stakeholders.
The meaning and practice of the term has stimulated great debate and continues to evolve. Generosity is becoming a central tenet of marketing activity for retailers, not just a whim rolled out every so often without strategy or analysis. This trend has certainly been influenced by the change in consumer spending habits. As well as being less brand loyal and spending less, customers are focussing far more on finding the best deals and offers. This can now be the deal breaker for purchasing and brand decisions.
This change means it is now essential for retailers to continually demonstrate generosity rather than making one-off offers. But it is crucial that the organisation plans activity carefully to ensure that it falls in line with brand values and is not attempting to trick or con customers. Consumers who are rewarded for their support trust their retailers and don’t feel ripped off will be their greatest advocate.
Brands that are generous in spirit to employees and customers, generous to the environment and to the social causes that matter to their audiences are more likely to stand out amongst the competition and nurture existing customer loyalty. This will also positively impact on brand perceptions and associations and will help to win over new customers.
If companies align with causes that their customers support, it is far easier to incorporate generosity into the pockets of their own consumers on a daily basis. Waitrose has extended its industry-recognised employee benefits programme with various generosity tactics for their loyal customers. The supermarket, which launched its responsible fishing policy 12 years ago, is offering customers a 20% discount for tickets to new film The End of the Line, about sustainable fishing. They not only demonstrate accountability by practising this policy, but they reward customers for supporting the film and promoting its message.
It is absolutely crucial, however, that retailers ensure their offers are as genuine and altruistic as the business will allow. It can be wise to simply launch a consumer campaign directly with the customer, rather than trying to provoke media hype in a cynical attempt to show off the company’s virtues. Marks & Spencer had to learn the hard way after the majority of its stores ran out of goods too early during its three-day 125th anniversary penny bazaar in May – leaving tired shoppers who had queued for hours empty-handed and resentful towards the retailer.