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The recession had a profound impact on retail. In its wake lay high streets full of bargains, influential price comparison websites and thriving discount shops.

The industry had hoped things would change. The belief was that once we were on a path to recovery, the shopping habits of old would return. But this hasn’t been the case. In research last year from Aimia, the data-driven marketing company that, along with Sainsbury’s, owns i2c, 43% of respondents said the recession had changed their shopping behaviour for good. The research confirmed we have lost a generation of shoppers to discounts.

This group is tricky to rescue. They aren’t necessarily united by age group or income. They are just as likely to be students as they are older parents. They could respond to flash social media sales, or vouchers in store. So how do we reach them?

First, we have to go back to the very heart of brand marketing. Executives must ask what it is that makes their product different, what appeals to the customer. This thinking has been lost amid a plethora of promotional strategies based on price.

This brand identity forms the core of your promotional and marketing strategy. As we seek to capture and then wean this lost generation off discounts, the discounts need to stay. They just now need to be more effective and targeted. And they need to reaffirm a brand’s values, not simply its prices.

Retail media is essential for this plan. Seamlessly integrating it will let you emphasise your messages across multiple channels. Companies need to know exactly how a drop in the price of a certain product will impact on sales. And once they’ve started a promotion, they should regularly assess how it can improve.

Hope lies in the fact buying decisions aren’t always based solely on price. Indeed, for all shoppers, most purchases aren’t logical. We like good products, we enjoy associating with brands. We don’t necessarily want to constantly shop around for the best price.

The industry cannot afford to keep cutting prices. It’s only by going back to the roots of what we know best that we can help this lost generation find us.

James Moir is CEO of i2c