Have people stopped caring about brands? Dramatic as it sounds, over the past few years of a rapidly shifting socioeconomic landscape, this question has sparked debate, leading to deeper questions around what is shaping consumer perception and brand connection.
We are entering an age of ‘brand inertia’ in which consumers are choosing not to choose, and are actively disconnecting.
For brands trying to reach these consumers, issues such as fragmented audiences, demographic diversification and content hyper-fatigue have shown it is harder than ever to maintain an active investment, both financially and emotionally. Brand inertia therefore poses a risk and potential negative impact on commercial growth.
According to recent research by Grayling, 63% of the public opt for familiar brands over exploring all available options before making a purchase. While this might seem favourable on the surface, it underscores a crucial point – relying solely on prevailing sector drivers of price and convenience won’t propel an fmcg brand to the top of its (often cluttered) category.
To truly lead, fmcg brands need to forge deep connections through different touchpoints, understanding their audience and creating affinity.
How can brand managers ensure consumer engagement?
These challenges will lead brands to ask three big questions of themselves. Are previously engaged consumers suffering from brand burnout; are their behaviours stagnating; and do either of these scenarios create any positive opportunities? In answer to the last question, yes they do. But firstly, brand managers and communicators should interrogate their brand identity, the content they produce and the connection they have with their audience.
Are they carving a truly distinctive brand identity? A striking 75% of respondents perceive same-sector brands as indistinguishable, while 64% engage more with brands embodying personality and purpose.
Simultaneously, the data highlights consumers are becoming increasingly disengaged with certain types of communications. Generic brand emails and texts were deleted by over half of consumers, while two-thirds of those asked weren’t interested in standard advertising, self-serving newsletters and blogs.
This underscores the need for a tailored approach, so brands should be asking themselves: is their content truly resonating?
Fmcg brands must resonate with consumers
Finally, are they forging authentic connections with consumers? This is vital, as 56% cannot recall a brand they genuinely connect with or that understands them. This prompts a profound revaluation of fmcg brands’ ability to foster meaningful associations and experiences.
Based on this research, three strategic recommendations emerge as a result. Firstly, by focusing on brand identity, brands can enhance their position through clarifying and distinguishing their value against competitors.
Authenticity is crucial in a trust-given landscape, so it’s important to integrate a brand’s purpose genuinely. Second, elevate your brand by borrowing equity through strategic partnerships and authentic associations for ROI, as co-branded collaborations and budget-friendly alliances offer exciting opportunities to reach and resonate effectively.
Lastly, optimise your content strategy to cut through overload with tailored, audience-first content across channels. Invest in measurement and maximise what works.
By taking these steps to reinforce their identity, foster connections, and embrace audience-centric strategies, fmcg brands can navigate the challenges posed by brand inertia and gain a real advantage over their competitors.