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Learnings from a marketer: adapting strategy throughout a downturn

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Lucy Hinton, SVP Client Success EMEA at Flashtaking by Mediaocean

Globally, inflation has been on the rise. Recent, geopolitical events are causing the cost of living to skyrocket, with food and energy prices hitting record highs. Understandably, consumers (and subsequently businesses) are becoming more cautious with their spending and some experts are even predicting the start of another recession. With this potential new reality at our doorstep, the effective and wise marketer will be taking proactive steps now and considering new strategies to minimise exposure to risk. The truth is, no two recessions are the same, so let’s consider the best strategy to adopt today…

2022: a year like no other

Each downturn is unique in the events leading up to it. A recession in 2022 would be no different, namely with regard to the current state of the UK labour market.

In most recessions, economic output and employment decline simultaneously. Losses in revenue often force businesses to cut down on staff and higher levels of unemployment lead to reduced consumer spending. As an example, in the 2007-2009 downturn – colloquially known as ‘The Great Recession’ – the Conference Board’s U.S. Consumer Confidence Index sank in 2009 to the lowest level since tracking started in 1967. Unsurprisingly, this created challenges for marketers, both through the downturn and in the ‘recovery period’.

Lucy Hinton

In 2022, in contrast with other years, the UK labour market (by many accounts) is thriving. Though employment is still below pre-pandemic levels, there are currently a record number of job vacancies on offer.

This is important to consider in the context of “recession psychology”. Ultimately, purchasing power depends on several factors – including consumers’ having disposable income, consumer confidence and the idea that people subscribe to a consumption lifestyle. This more buoyant job market gives consumers access, theoretically, to more income and subsequently puts marketers in a different position to 2007-2009.

Thankfully, it’s not all doom and gloom. Despite the unique iterations of each one, certain patterns in consumer behaviour have emerged from previous downturns. Marketers can learn from these trends and adapt strategies accordingly.

The audience may change and so might priorities

Both consumer and B2B customers fall into several categories. It’s therefore important for marketers to revaluate and understand where their audience sits in a downturn. During and post-recession, it’s key to appreciate that your demographic, and the customers which fall into each category, may shift as the change in state of play impacts organisations.

Whichever customer group they fall into, all purchasing decisions will fit into one of four categories – based on the type of product or service being provided:

  • Essentials are necessary for survival or perceived as central to well-being.
  • Treats are indulgences whose immediate purchase is considered justifiable.
  • Postponables are needed or desired items whose purchase can be reasonably put off.
  • Expendables are perceived as unnecessary or unjustifiable.

The essential products and services are the easiest to predict, as they will differ the least. However, what falls into the remaining three categories may vary hugely between customers. Throughout a downturn, it’s understandable that consumption priorities may shift. For example, what previously fell into essentials may be moved into postponables or expendables. Whereas other items may be eliminated completely.

What does this mean for marketers? Whatever the downturn looks like, it’s clear that the business landscape will change dramatically. As a result, marketers need to be innovative, proactive, and agile to stay ahead of any challenges- starting with two key factors…

C-Suite superheroes can save the day

Over the past two years, the C-Suite have gone above and beyond to keep things moving within their organisations. CMOs and CFOs in particular, have faced the most abrupt areas of change. For marketers, adapting to the needs of consumers who had their lives turned upside down has required real, rapid innovation. On the finance front, the shifting economic sands have needed faster analysis of better data than ever to manage.

It is this power pairing, of the CMO and CFO, that companies need to encourage and embrace. A strategically aligned C-suite can help drive digital transformation and expand growth opportunity. In fact, leaders of digitally advanced companies credit their greater gains to higher levels of synergy between finance and marketing teams.

A strong relationship between marketing and finance ensures company leadership is on the same page about important business objectives like demand forecasting, lead generation, and investment allocation—all of which accelerate digital transformation strategies.

Organisations which already have a deep collaboration between CMO and CFO are on the front foot. For companies which haven’t yet built those lines of collaboration, now is the perfect time.

Smart investments in technology

The second conversation that marketers need to be having is around tech investments. Growing data availability has made it possible to target consumers more precisely and reactively. Insights gained from looking at the data can help marketers to figure out what’s working well and what’s not in their media spend.

For example, forecasts from media agency Zenith, expect global advertising spend on social media to rise to $177bn in 2022 – putting it, for the first time, ahead of TV spend, which will sit at $174bn. Though social media’s influence can’t be denied, there’s a risk to seeing it as a singly, monolithic channel among media. In fact, no channel happens in a vacuum. It only takes looking at our own experiences as consumers to realise media is media, and we want the flexibility and choice to watch what we want when, where, and how.

This means that data and analysis is key to understanding the effectiveness of media spend, content and tools. In turn, this creates two clear benefits for marketers. The first, marketers can see what needs to change and where the focus should be rather than having to reduce budget. Secondly, and most critically, this sort of analysis provides the opportunity to create a flexible omnichannel strategy and approach where marketers can influence across a variety of channels and devices while still allocating more resources to channels proving most influential at the same time as not over allocating to what’s trending at the expense of proven media formats and creative.

We can’t control the state of the economy or stop the UK from heading towards a recession. But if marketers remain proactive and agile in their mindset and approach, they can move forward into this (potentially) uncertain period, knowing they’re armed with the necessary tools and practices to succeed and future-proof their plans.

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Union Bank of India goes live with RuPay Credit Card on UPI with Kiya.ai as a technology partner

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Nitesh Ranjan, ED Union Bank of India with Rajesh Mirjankar, Managing Director & CEO, Kiya.ai at the launch

 

Kiya.ai, one of the most innovative digital solutions providers in India, announced that Union Bank of India was among the first banks to launch NPCI’s UPI linked to Rupay Credit Card and UPI Lite on the unified payments interface (UPI) platform with Kiya.ai as their technology partner in this achievement.

The announcement comes after the RBI Governor Shri Shaktikanta Das and National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) launched RuPay credit card on UPI, UPI Lite and Cross Border payments for BBPS at Global Fintech Fest 2022.

Until now, UPI allowed the linking of bank accounts by mapping an account linked with a mobile number and an savings / current account. Earlier in June 2022, the RBI allowed the linking of credit cards with UPI, stating that RuPay credit cards would be initially linked with UPI “to provide additional convenience to users and enhance the scope of digital payments”.

Rajesh Mirjankar, Managing Director & CEO, Kiya.ai, “We are extremely delighted to partner with Union Bank of India in this pilot project of linking RuPay Credit card on UPI. Kiya.ai has partnered with Union Bank of India for various digital payment initiatives including UPI, UPI Lite, UPI linkage to credit card, and sandbox for API banking.  The linking of credit card to UPI will significantly enhance high-volume transactions while also increasing average amount per transaction given the ease of using credit facility on UPI. This is a game-changing initiative as it will ensure safe and contactless transactions, reducing the risk of credit card frauds too.”

Mr. Nitesh Ranjan, ED Union Bank of India said, “We are pleased to embrace the decision taken by the Reserve Bank of India and NPCI to enable Rupay credit cards through UPI. Union Bank of India is proud to be a part of this launch. This is a game changer as one would be able to use a credit card for doing payments using UPI. We are excited to partner with Kiya.ai on this journey, and together, we can provide a smooth user experience to customers and make India even more digitally advanced.”

As part of the pilot project, NPCI will integrate the UPI AutoPay feature with credit card transactions to reduce the risk of defaults on credit card payments.

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UK leaves Europe trailing in its embrace of digital banking

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  • People in the UK have embraced digital and online banking in a way that those across the rest of Europe have not, new research by CRIF finds
  • UK consumers are now twice as likely to prefer to apply for financial products and services online via website or in-app, compared to people in other parts of Europe
  • More than half of Europeans still prefer to apply for new financial products in-person
  • The research comes during the cost of living crisis where people in the UK are increasingly looking for greater support from their financial providers

UK consumers are significantly ahead of their European counterparts in their embrace of digital forms of banking, new data shows.

The research, commissioned by Europe’s leading provider of consumer and business credit information – CRIF – surveyed thousands of people in countries across the continent including France, the Czech Republic, Italy, Germany, Slovakia, and the UK, to better understand their attitudes towards financial services.

The findings show that people in the UK are nearly twice as likely as other Europeans to prefer applying for financial products and services online via website or app, including through online chat or video call functions (59% vs 33%)

It also finds that over half (53%) of Europeans still prefer to apply for new financial products – such as current accounts, credit cards or loans – in-person at a local bank branch. In comparison, in the UK only around one in five (23%) would now prefer to go in-person, showing consumers’ embrace of a digital-first approach to banking.

The data underlines the advancements and innovations that the UK’s financial services and fintech sectors have made when compared to other sectors across Europe. The UK continues to be Europe’s most attractive location for international investment into financial services*, with the UK’s fintech sector securing more than $9bn of investment in the first half of 2022, ahead of Germany, Europe’s second biggest fintech destination, with $2.4bn.**

Sara Costantini, CRIF’s Regional Director for the UK & Ireland, said:

“In a digitally dominated world, the way in which we go about our daily lives has changed. And nowhere more so than in banking and financial services. Our research shows that the UK leads the way in Europe when it comes to embracing digital and online methods, but there is still more we can do to utilise digital technologies to help more UK consumers to manage their finances.

“While some are reluctant to share data as they are worried about fraud and security, we should work to allay these fears. Technologies such as open banking are not only safe but can lay the foundations for increased financial support during the current economic crisis.

“Financial providers must do more to educate their customers about the benefits of online and other digital forms of banking to not only help them during the cost of living crisis, but also to drive widespread financial wellbeing and inclusion for all.”

While the UK’s embrace of digital financial services in comparison to the rest of Europe is positive, the research identifies several key challenges to furthering this progress and providing consumers with better services at a time when the cost of living is putting considerable pressure on people’s finances.

Despite growing demand in the UK for more tailored financial products and services – with 34% saying banks should doing more here to meet people’s specific needs at this time – nearly one in five (18%) are still concerned that they would be sold products which aren’t right for them.

When the issue of data is raised, over two-thirds of UK consumers (67%) express concerns that sharing financial data leaves them more open to fraud, underlining the need to educate and reassure customers that innovations like open banking have high security standards and enables a range of consumer benefits.

However, despite this hesitance, more UK consumers are acknowledging the benefits that sharing more of their financial information with providers can bring. CRIF’s research finds around a third of people in the UK would be prepared to share more financial information if it helped providers to better assess their financial situation and improve their ability to borrow (35%) or increase their credit limit (31%). The fact that there are more than 6 million active users of open banking services in the UK reflects this change*** and makes the country the leading adopter of open banking in Europe. ****

The research also shows that younger generations (18-34s) in the UK are significantly more willing to share their data with financial providers, with 53% saying they’d be comfortable doing so if it enabled them to qualify for higher levels of borrowing.

These findings are part of wider research by CRIF into the cost of living crisis in Europe, and its impact on consumer attitudes towards banking and financial services. The full report, Banking on Banks, will be published later this month.

 

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