What Does Value Mean in 2013?
‘Value’ has been code for low-prices as the recession has bitten but the definition is broadening and shopper marketing and promotions need increasingly to both recognise and to reflect this. Up to this point, discounting price has often become confused with value by marketers, either deliberately or accidentally. Not surprisingly, this has led to consumers becoming confused by the messaging and with both parties to the transaction equally confused, straight discounts have now commoditised the “reward” marketing proposition almost completely. One only needs to open a tabloid newspaper to see the supermarket and FMCG brands “out-discounting” each other every day.
But today, workmanship, sustainability, localisation, customisation, innovation, convenience and service can all form part of a genuine ‘value’ proposition for a shopper. Not only can permanent discounting confuse this value equation in shoppers’ minds but ‘recession burnout’ among customers means that price can even be a destructive differentiator. “Recession burnout” is a very real phenomenon and its impact on shoppers can be seen in the success of premium own-label offerings and “luxury” carrier bags: Shoppers are value-conscious but don’t want to be categorised (or perceived) as bargain-basement buyers.
Shoppers want to feel better about themselves and the decisions that they make. They are becoming owners of products rather than users and a shopper’s experience of a brand can represent a large part of their value perception. Combining incentives with education on the full ‘bundle’ and offering mutually rewarding engagement can sway shoppers to reconsider and feel satisfied with their choice.
By establishing a relationship with shoppers where “value” can be established over time on one or all of the levels suggested above, brands can not only avoid being discount-driven but can also begin to integrate the learning from these deeper relationships to drive new product development and longer-term rewarding of loyalty to more accurately reflect shoppers’ own personal definitions of value.