Whitepaper — Your Brand and the Value Conversation in Tough Economic Times

Value. Today’s press and consumers are singularly focused on savings, deals and savvy shopping. Long gone are buzzwords like bling and indulge. So how can marketers guide their brands through this new media landscape, while remaining true to the brand identity? A recent Kaplow white paper analyzes the different ways the media are covering “value”, provides implications for coverage and maintaining brand equity, and includes specific analysis for luxury, beauty and retailers. Below are some highlights from the report.
For a full download of this whitepaper, please email Kaplow at [email protected].

What Does Value Mean Today?

The media currently views value through the prism of immediate and significant savings. The goal is to help consumers get more bang for their buck. Great deals, coupons, low-cost alternatives and other money-saving tips lead coverage.

Additionally, the media is exploring the ramifications and shifts in consumer behavior as a result of the downturn. Coverage of people staying home, shopping less and budget hunting has led to tips for families planning “staycations” and stories of fashionistas turned “recessionistas.” Likewise, deal roundup stories and homemade gift ideas dominated holiday media.

The Implications for Coverage and Maintaining Brand Equity

1. The value story needs to be authentic.

Consumers are savvy, and more so now. Brands should only herald savings if they are real and significant. “Marketers strive for value” says a November 12 blog post on Fortune.com, calling the initiatives a “flurry of downscaling.”

There’s no need to beat around the bush when it comes to telling a value story. Americans and the media are quite aware that these are challenging times. Pitches and correspondence should reflect the realities of the situation.

2. Help for companies that don’t fall into the recession-proof category.

If your brand does not fall into the value category, look for ways to further build a connection with consumers, while staying true to the brand’s identity. Deepen the emotional connection by showcasing its uniqueness, or through loyalty programs like the new Starbucks Gold Card.

Also, use this as a moment to educate your consumers. Tiffany used this to great success in the recession of the early 1990s. The jeweler’s “How to Buy a Diamond” campaign helped them gain significant traction in flush times.

3. Take a scalpel to your brand’s story.

With the news cycle moving so fast, brands need to be flexible with their message. PR professionals have the benefit of working in real time, enabling us to carve out story elements that resonate.

Look for pre-existing facets to mine, and make “new.” Kmart put an emphasis on its layaway program with ads that position it as savvy and exciting. The payment plan has earned national press, including features in the Washington Post and a showcase in Rob Walker’s New York Times Magazine Consumed column.

4. Remember, life goes on.

People are still getting married and having babies. They are socializing with friends and family. Lockstep with the coverage of how the recession is impacting our lives, is a conversation about how to survive it in style.

• “Dream wedding needn’t cost a fortune,” writes the Tennessean.
• “Times are tough. Let’s have a party!” says the San Jose Mercury News.

For additional implications, and a full analysis of the way media are covering value, please email Kaplow at [email protected]. We’ll gladly send you the full report.

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