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HOW BRANDS CAN CAPITALISE ON NEW CONSUMER HABITS POST-LOCKDOWN

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Reaching major milestones in life, like an important birthday or buying a first house tends to disrupt our regular habits, and often results in us forming new ones. Entering in and out of lockdown over the past year and half has been a major catalyst for this. We are no longer forced to stay inside and take up new lockdown habits like baking banana bread or cycling on a Peloton bike at home, and as a result people have formed new behaviours and many old social norms have been altered.

Will Hanmer-Llyod, Head of Behavioural Planning at Total Media.

While the long-term impact of lockdown and Freedom Day on consumer habits may not be entirely clear yet, in the short-term, brands that seize on this time to re-engage with consumers will generate results.

According to a Duke University study 45% of our daily activities are habitual, rather than actively chosen on a day to day basis. If brands change consumer habits towards their products or services, then they can easily drive sales and growth over the long term.

One way to encourage behavioural change is by piggybacking onto an existing consumer habit. A successful example of this is from the The London Fire Brigade. In order to get people to check their fire alarms, they told people to do it at the same time that they move their clocks forward and back. By adding this onto an existing behaviour, it became more natural  for consumers to turn this into a habit.

A majorly disrupted routine during the pandemic was grocery shopping. Stopping by the shop on your way home from work to pick up something for dinner was no longer an option, and, despite government warnings against it, people began panic buying things that they would have purchased more sporadically, like toilet paper.

Although many people are reverting back to old habits from before the first lockdown in March 2020, brands that capitalise on the fact that many consumers have new expectations and demands will form strong relationships with potential customers. Now is the time to make sure brands are taking consumer preferences into account with their marketing, in order to reach people in the most effective way possible.

 

The power of making something easy

The pandemic has caused elevated significance for things like convenience and comfort, and this has influenced the ways that consumers have engaged with brands. For instance, subscription services grew in popularity over lockdown as people were confined to their homes. Time spent on services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video almost doubled in 2020 and subscription food boxes became a great way for people to receive fresh ingredients to their door. But with people no longer forced to spend night after night binging Tiger King or Killing Eve, how can these types of brands retain their appeal?

It is important for brands to justify their continued role in consumer’s lives as we move into a more hybrid lifestyle. There will be new opportunities for brands to tap in to, for instance those still using their subscription services may want a more flexible plan, or one that can be frozen with less notice. Meal subscription brands could offer quicker recipes or include lunches that can be eaten on the go rather than needing to be cooked from scratch. With new consumer lifestyles coming from post-lockdown life, brands need to think about how they can support that, and in turn continue to be a relevant product in their lives.

These steps brands can take to adapt to new consumer habits won’t be without hurdles. While the UK saw the highest number of people who have been able to save, among European countries, large swaths of people had to curtail spending.

Along with financial limitations, the technology that has come along with the pandemic may also create problems for some people. Brands that have shifted more and more to digital may risk losing a share of their audience if they are not comfortable using those new features. Understanding and supporting consumers through these hurdles will allow brands to appeal to a wider audience.

The pandemic also led to more people trying different brands for a number of reasons. Things like availability, changes in finance, and new routines made people seek out alternatives to what they would normally buy. With these changes, brands need to make sure their messaging is able to target multiple audiences to encourage a switch to their products. Some people were excited to get back to their normal shopping habits, and for that brands can hype up the experience. For those still a little hesitant, measures that were put in place during lockdowns, like Tesco’s Quiet Hours, can be made permanent, like the retailer has done, to create an inclusive shopping experience for all.

There will be further opportunities for brands to capitalise on newly formed habits as we continue to figure out the “new normal”, but for what that will ultimately look like, well, we’ll just have to wait and see!

 

 

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IS SCARCITY OF TALENT THREATENING THE UK’S FINTECH CROWN?

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Opinion From Rafa Plantier, Head of UK and Ireland at Tink

 

From the Square Mile to Canary Wharf, London has been the historic centre of global finance, with long-established trading exchanges and trusted financial institutions. In the digital era, it has also ensured that it’s moved with the times to become a thriving hub for fintech.

But the UK financial services sector is now at an inflection point. In the past year, London’s position as a global fintech leader has been under threat. Earlier this year, Amsterdam overtook The City as the largest European share trading hub. The European Banking Authority moved from London to Paris. And Dublin, Paris and Frankfurt are all competing to win a greater share of the European financial marketplace.

The culprits of the shift are the twin challenges of the pandemic and Brexit, combined with the speed of technological transformation in financial services – disrupting the traditional flow of people, capital and ideas. So the pressing question for the industry is: how do we maintain and, more importantly, accelerate momentum to retain London’s fintech crown?

The answer revolves around one key thing — people.

 

Diverse talent drives innovation

Attracting the best talent is crucial if the UK financial services sector is going to continue to thrive and retain its global position as the preeminent financial centre.

In February 2021, the Kalifa Review laid out a strategy and delivery model for the UK to lead the fintech revolution, covering five key areas. These included skills and talent, investment and international attractiveness and competitiveness. But what became clear was that access to the right level of highly skilled talent was one of the biggest challenges for UK fintech, with barriers spanning both domestic skills shortages and the need to access foreign talent seamlessly.

As a native Brazilian in the UK, working for a Swedish-owned fintech, I understand these challenges as well as anyone. I love London, but we must recognise that fintech firms need unique talent and skills, and such a talent base can’t be met by a single city – not even one as resourceful as London. Not only do fintechs require technology and data specialists, but also experienced managers with good knowledge of high-growth companies and financial services.

As someone lucky enough to have worked with startup and scale-up fintechs across the world,  I understand the unique grounding that comes from being a part of a high-growth global company. That’s why I believe it’s vital that we attract people from across the world with commercial experience at ambitious, rapid-growth businesses — so they can bring this experience to bear on the UK financial services sector.

At the same time, many companies face renewed pressure to create new services and products to meet expectations for growth. That is why it’s critical that the UK has access to people with the right technical skills in areas such as software engineering, DevOps, Cybersecurity and data science.

Put simply, having the smartest minds delivering the best products is good for everyone. It drives efficiency, productivity,  growth and, ultimately, prosperity.

 

The UK is open for fintech

The UK should be proud of being a fintech pioneer and the driving force behind legislation that helped usher in the era of open banking. There is now an exciting opportunity to take this even further. Having access to a diverse pool of talent and skills will empower the financial services industry to create innovative products to tackle complex social challenges, such as better B2B payments, financial inclusion and climate change.

The good news is that the UK government clearly recognises the role the industry has to play in driving growth and innovation. The 2021 Autumn Budget reaffirmed commitments to reskill the nation. With £3.8bn budgeted for skills and a formal criteria for the long-awaited Scale Up Visa, the Chancellor announced a set of proposals that will support the breadth of our sector — from startups right through to unicorns and incumbent banks. This will be essential for fintechs like ours to continue to trailblaze and for the UK to differentiate itself on the global stage.

In an increasingly competitive global landscape, and to sustain momentum, we must keep talent avenues open to attract the best of the best in the industry. As one of the fastest-growing areas of the UK economy, the benefits of nurturing UK fintech to drive productivity, growth and lead the UK’s post-pandemic recovery, cannot be overstated. 2021 has seen a surge of activity in the industry and I am eager to see what London’s fintech sector can achieve in 2022.

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SET YOUR BUSINESS UP FOR SALES SUCCESS IN A POST-PANDEMIC WORLD

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SET YOUR BUSINESS UP FOR SALES SUCCESS IN A POST-PANDEMIC WORLD

Dean Fiveash, Head of FinTech Sales, IFX

Without doubt the Coronavirus pandemic impacted every aspect of our lives and fundamentally changed the way in which we all conduct business.

From the widespread adoption of working from home, to the amplified focus on employee wellbeing and work life balance, to simply acknowledging that people are more than their job titles and are often juggling childcare, pets and terrible wifi issues all whilst trying to do their job. The last 18 months have altered the way we work forever and in order to set our businesses up for success we have also needed to rethink how we operate.

Dean Fiveash

In a people facing sector like sales,  it’s  clear that the loss of face-to-face interaction is perhaps the biggest loss and an impending challenge as we slowly emerge from the confines of the pandemic. Gone are the days of instant downloads from ‘water cooler’ conversations with the team discussing deals or general matters. Instead, our inboxes and diaries are full of zoom catch ups. This isn’t to say that success has dwindled. Flexibility of working from home has helped many businesses to grow rapidly. In fact at IFX we have enjoyed our ten best months of company sales, but there is no denying the way in which we work within our teams has shifted. So how can you set up your sales teams to maximise its chances of success?

 

Adapting To The Times

For many businesses operating during these unprecedented times the shift towards the work from home culture has seen its benefits. Speed is key in the fintech industry and video calls on top of isolated working has greatly improved our time efficiency allowing us to do more for our clients in the long run. Equally, with the workforce being spread around the country and in some cases even globally, came the need for further rigorous checks and processes to ensure the high standards set in the office environment are still being met.

Despite this I would argue that this made us better sales people, and in turn a more successful and thriving sales team.

Post-pandemic success is grounded in not just the talent of your employees but also how you choose to structure your teams. For me, the old adage ‘People Buy People’ remains the most relevant factor for developing a slick sales team. At the end of the day, the technical stuff can be learnt over time but the proficient people skills needed in client facing roles is more innate.

When evaluating team skills, individuals who demonstrate determination and the ability to keep smiling through adversity are a vital asset, especially in the fast paced fintech industry.

Having worked in numerous team leader roles within the sales industry,  I know the difference that a collegiate and supportive team can make to successfully securing deals. The key is to have people at your disposal who are going to pitch in to help others, in turn making the team more robust. In the post-pandemic world, this will remain the key quality to look for and embed as a core value across the business.

 

Fostering A Successful Culture 

Whilst the team structure and core skills are an important part of the team set up, good management and personal development structure is crucial to success. At IFX, our sales leadership team all have client portfolios and are regularly signing and navigating deals. It’s through giving my team practical experience and regular client interaction that we can gain far better market insight than through managing team activity or KPIs alone.

More discipline is also required when working at home to retain the sales focus whilst navigating domestic distractions. As such, maintaining your employee motivation and focus is something each business should work on. A difficult feat without the physical presence of your team and one balanced on knowing your employees and their individual needs. But little things go a long way, so incentives and perks such as company socials, bonuses or simply a free breakfast can work wonders to motivate others. Another tip is to set  attainable goals and regular check-ins with your team to keep motivation on track to reach peak productivity.

 

Looking Forward

Team dynamics will continue to change to adapt to the ever-changing and rapidly evolving landscape, the secret to success will remain the same.

Something to look forward to in the next couple of years as a movement,  is the greater adoption of smarter contracts and embedded FinTech, which of course as businesses and as a team we will have to adapt to.

Ultimately, my biggest piece of advice to others is to get the basics right.  A leading-edge solution fails to achieve greatness if it isn’t backed with competent sales/relationship managers and attentive operational support. Traditional ingredients for success such as reputation and trustworthiness are built over time, often through word of mouth, but building a competent team who can make your clients happy is essential to that mix

 

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