Opinion: Observations of new Aussie behaviours and the implications for innovation and creative development

Ilana Sanborn portrait By Ilana Sanborn – Senior Director, Kantar Marketplace

As we navigate the pandemic, it is imperative that brands are aware of new behaviours of Aussie consumers. But what do we know about the Australian landscape Aussies are playing in:

  • Three in four businesses believe they will be negatively impacted by the economic fallout*
  • Locally owned businesses expect a 24% reduction in annual trading potential*
  • Business recovery is estimated to take as much as 17 months; but could be up to three years*
  • Eight in 10 businesses are pivoting their processes to adapt to new conditions*
  • Half of businesses are increasing their eCommerce activity and capabilities*

The time to invest in online channels, optimise digital comms and review CX is NOW 
And don’t forget about innovation, because now is a great time to launch products with meaningful unique benefits that are different to the competitive set.

Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater – not all behaviours are changing, and some changes are only temporary. But if you recently launched an omni-channel strategy, the journey your customers follow has changed and it is no longer linear with a few touchpoints – especially if you are investing in eCommerce, click and collect and delivery.

Alarmingly, 41% of Aussie businesses are decreasing their marketing spend by an average of 38% and a third are decreasing research spend by as much as a half**. Yet, we know from BrandZ – the world’s largest brand equity database – that after the GFC, brands with strong equity declined less, and recovered (much) faster. Businesses that recovered faster continued to invest in their strong brands even through tough times with their focus on delivering meaning and impact with differentiated innovation delivering to consumer needs.

Businesses that build and market a relevant, differentiated offer are more likely to succeed
Now is a great time to innovate and focus on what makes your product or service different – but be conscious of changing behaviours and attitudes of Aussie consumers. Nikki Davey, Head of Innovation at Kantar Australia says, “a competitive advantage can be found in the design, route to market, positioning or communication and this should be used to differentiate the brand, whilst resolving a consumer tension in a meaningful way.”

There are seven key observations to consider now to help secure sustainable future growth
Data from Kantar Marketplace’s innovation solutions reveal what brands must take notice of to win in the current environment to secure sustainable future growth.

    1. Australians are focussing more on price
      Our March Covid-19 Barometer indicated that 55% of Australians were paying more attention to prices, but by August this was 10% higher (and 20% higher in Victoria). This attention on price is not a negative (yet) when it comes to impact on trial intent of new innovation – as long as the new proposition is relevant, credible and calls out differentiated benefits that are new to the category.
    2. Relevance of ideas is dropping
      As consumers change or adapt their behaviours, they experiment with more brands, move to online environments and re-assess product benefits and relevance of some features. Rather than launching for the sake of launching, consider investing in a platform to connect with consumers and identify the most relevant benefit for their current lifestyles. Consumers are really scrutinising benefits of new products and questioning how it will help them personally as they are wary of marketing that over-sells features with no real tangible benefits.
    3. Some innovation is appealing to a wider audience than expected
      Unless your product is only used by one gender (such as femcare) be careful of excluding a specific group from your research. Several studies recently used a wide sample of non-rejectors and revealed more than one target group for the brand –opening up discussions for comms and media targeting.
    4. There is a heightened need to prove incrementality to retailers to secure ranging
      Don’t rely on claimed purchase intent – the power is in focusing on trial intent and incremental trial potential. Our measure of trial takes into account purchase intent, value perceptions and strength of inertia at a respondent level making it a more accurate measure of success. As our discretionary spend decreases in Australia, the fight to land in the basket will increase, and high purchase intent alone will not be a success factor.
    5. You might regret launching without consumer testing
      With the ability to test innovation and creative in only a couple of hours, there is no reason not to involve consumers in an iterative testing process to continuously optimise with a test and learn approach. We are finding that consumers have become sensitive to certain topics (and scenes in creative) and knowing which words and phrases to ‘stay away from’ in your campaign can mean the difference between a good and a great launch.
    6. 50% of the success in the campaign relies on the quality of the creative
      The rest is a combination of reach, frequency and media synergy. Pre-testing can help to optimise the creative itself ensuring it is persuasive enough and on brand. Post-testing can help identify the impact of the campaign after launch and it is now possible to get consumer input into the quality of the creative in even the tightest of timelines to feed into precious discussions in the editing process.
    7. Speed is essential
      Kantar continue to invest in technology to decrease the time it takes to provide results, so that it is possible to get a consumer read in even the tightest of timelines. We recently did a concept test in seven hours to allow our client to make big decisions with confidence in their Monday morning ‘Stage Gate’ approval process.

When it comes to marketing communications during an economic crisis, delivering the right message in the most effective way is paramount, says Sam Walters, Head of Creative at Kantar Australia.

“With innovations in research technology it allows brands to test their creative in just hours, it’s a game changer for advertisers who get it right.”

Learn more about Kantar Marketplace solutions

 Ilana Sanborn

* Kantar Covid-19 Barometer 2020 ** Kantar Compass 2020